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The Tuesday Count: Voters decide how to vote, Arkansas certifications, and referendums
Edited by Brittany Clingen
Arkansas now has three certified legislatively-referred constitutional amendments on the ballot for 2014, including two that many thought were dead. Both the Arkansas Ballot Measure Signature Requirements Amendment and the Arkansas Elected Officials Ethics, Transparency and Financial Reform Amendment were initially rejected by the Joint Committee on Constitutional Amendments but were subsequently approved and passed in the Senate.
The Arkansas Ballot Measure Signature Requirements Amendment, also known as SJR 16, would increase the percentage of valid signatures required by the time the proposal is sent to the Secretary of State. If supporters of the measure want additional time to gather signatures, they must have at least 75 percent of the total signatures needed. To get a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot, a minimum of 78,133 signatures are required; proposed initiated acts require at least 62,507.
The Arkansas Elected Officials Ethics, Transparency and Financial Reform Amendment actually tackles three issues in one proposal. If passed, this measure would permit legislators to serve a total of 16 years in the House or Senate, form a separate, seven-member commission to determine state elected officials' salaries, and establish limits on lobbying efforts by former legislators and campaign donations and gifts from lobbyists.
The third Arkansas measure is known as the Arkansas Legislative Approval of State Agency Rules Amendment, or SJR 7. If passed, this amendment would require the legislature to review and approve changes to the administrative rules of state agencies beore any changes are put in place. All three of these measures will appear on the ballot in the general election on November 4, 2014.
In Montana, two legislatively-referred state statutes may also go before voters in the general election on November 4, 2014. The first, known as SB 408 or the Montana Primary Election Revision Measure, would establish a "top two" candidate primary election system. This would allow voters to bypass party-designated ballots and vote for a candidate of any party on a single ballot. The two candidates with the most votes would then move on to the general election.
Some legislators believe this measure would place more power in the hands of voters. “I won my seat with 42 percent of the vote. So that means that 58 percent of the people who voted didn’t vote for me. I kind of wonder sometimes if that’s fair," said Sen. Alan Olson (R-23). However, opponents fear that this new method would eradicate third parties, whose candidates typically receive far fewer votes than their Democratic and Republican counterparts.
The Montana Late Voter Registration Revision Measure, also known as SB 405, addresses the date by which citizens must be registered to vote before an election. If this measure passes, the last day a person could register would be the Friday before election day. Since 2006, people have been allowed to register the day of voting. Proponents argue that pre-registration will decrease both long lines and the workload borne by election workers. Adversaries argue that such a change would disenfranchise voters. A similar bill that would disallow day-of voting registration is currently awaiting Gov. Steve Bullock's (D) signature, however the governor has been an outspoken opponent of dissolving same-day registration. If the current bill is not signed, SB 405 will go before voters in November 2014. The support of both Montana measures is drawn along party lines, with Republicans favoring and Democrats opposing them.
Disgruntled voters in Alaska are preparing to launch a referendum campaign against Governor Sean Parnell's (R) SB 21, which offers tax breaks for oil companies. The bill has yet to go to the governor for his signature and therefore has not taken effect, however voters are already crying foul, saying the bill helps only the oil companies and does nothing for Alaskan citizens. Parnell says he supports the bill in hopes that oil companies will flock to Alaska and boost production. Revenue from oil accounts for approximately 90 percent of the state's general budget.
The bill's opponents, many of whom believe oil companies will come to Alaska with or without an added incentive, have banded together and dubbed their campaign "Vote Yes! Repeal the Giveaway." The group faces an uphill battle in getting their referendum on the August 2014 ballot, as planned. The ballot laws regarding referendums are stringent: the campaign must gather signatures from at least 10 percent of the number of voters who participated in the prior general election; signatures must be gathered in 30 of the 40 House districts, with at least 7 percent of eligible voters in each district signing. However, campaign activists are confident in their success, citing the public's disapproval of the bill.
|States:||Arkansas California, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, Tennessee, and Wyoming|
With a 90-49 vote, the Connecticut House passed a joint resolution that paves the way for a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment which would dissolve the requirement that people vote in person at the polls on Election Day and allow anyone to vote early or via absentee ballot. Currently, voters in Connecticut are exempt from voting in person only if they have extenuating circumstances such as an illness or disability. The resolution must first pass the Senate. According to Article 12 of the Connecticut Constitution, as a potential amendment, the resolution must pass both the House and Senate with at least a 3/4 majority vote. If it is passed in the Senate, the issue will go to voters in 2014. Supporters believe that this will make voting easier and more convenient for all Connecticut voters. Opponents, specifically Republicans, are concerned with the language of the measure, explaining that the wording is too vague in distinguishing early voting initiatives from absentee ballots.
Effort to remove referendum protections from legislation kicks off in Michigan: After getting petition language certified in February, the group Voters for Fair Use of Ballot Referendum has kicked off its efforts at gathering signatures. The group was founded by Bill Lucas and seeks to amend the state constitution to allow for the popular referendum of bills containing appropriations. The attempt is more or less a direct response to the legislature's recent passing of controversial bills containing minor appropriations for the purpose of rendering them referendum-proof. The most public of these legislative actions is perhaps the passing of a follow-up emergency manager bill after voters rejected Proposal 1 at the polls in 2012. More recently, however, is the legislature's response to the Michigan Wolf Hunting Referendum. Supporters turned in a large number of signatures, likely sending the measure on to the 2014 ballot. Within weeks the legislature drafted new bills containing appropriations. Lucas's effort is being circulated as an initiated constitutional amendment and will require a minimum of 322,609 valid signatures by early July 2014 in order to qualify for the ballot.
Gun-control opponents in Maryland say referendum unlikely: Delegate Neil Parrott (R-2B), founder of MDPetitions.com, announced that opponents of Maryland's new gun-control laws will not be pursuing the previously expected referendum on the bill. Instead, they will be focusing on raising money in support of a National Rifle Association lawsuit. Part of their fundraising will also be directed towards campaigning against state lawmakers who voted in favor of the legislation. Though many gun-rights advocates said they were confident they would have won had the bill gone to a popular vote, Del. Parrott said, "This is a constitutional right that should not go to the citizens to vote on."
Local measures on the ballot for 10 percent of Washington residents today, local schools and cities requesting nearly 200 million in bond money
- 15 property tax measures
- 7 local school tax measures
- 10 local school bond measures
- $197,257,271 in total requested bond money
- 2 city bond measures
- 4 measures concerning annexation or merging of jurisdictions
- A Mountlake Terrace City measure in Snohomish County seeks for the third time in three years to approve bonds to build an expensive new Civic Center. This measure is looking for approval of $25 million in bonds.
- Another measure seeks $15.5 million in bond money to remodel and improve Decatur School and other district facilities in San Juan County.
For full coverage of each measure and election results follow this page.
Ballot Law Update
Arkansas house votes to tighten initiative laws: On Wednesday, April 17, the Arkansas House of Representatives voted 78 to 9 in favor of enacting additional regulations on petition gathering for state ballot initiatives. The bill would require paid petitioners to register with the state, as well as provide a photo of themselves to the secretary of state. The bill also allows state canvassers to invalidate all signatures on a petition sheet if the signers do not all reside within the same county. The legislation under discussion is Senate Bill 821.
Vote delayed on Fair Ballot Commission bill: Senator Bobby Singleton (D-24) moved to delay a bill currently before the Alabama Senate that would create a so-called "Fair Ballot Commission." If enacted, the commission would be charged with crafting explanations of the ballot measures that go before voters. The bill would also require that the state post the explanations to the secretary of state's website. Sen. Singleton explained that he was not ready to vote on the bill because he was concerned that there was no provision ensuring that minorities would be represented on the commission. He also questioned whether such a commission was necessary and what accountability it would have when writing "fair" ballot statements.
| 2013 ballot measures|
|Tuesday Count • 2013 Scorecard|
- Ballotpedia's Tuesday Count for 2013
- 2013 ballot measures & 2014
- Local ballot measure elections in 2013
- Potential 2013 ballot measures & 2014
- Times Record, "Arkansas Legislature: Two Proposed Constitutional Amendments Clear Senate," April 18, 2013
- The Republic, "Arkansas lawmakers send proposed amendments on ethics and petition rules to voters," April 19, 2013
- Great Falls Tribune, "Legislators refer big changes in elections to Montana voters," April 21, 2013
- Anchorage Daily News, "Critics of oil tax cuts move ahead with referendum to repeal the legislation," April 18, 2013
- Alaska Dispatch, "Referendum to repeal governor's oil tax cut takes another step," April 18, 2013
- The Day Connecticut, "State House calls for constitutional amendment to expand voting options," April 17, 2013
- Macomb daily, "Petition drive seeks to ease ballot prop process," April 18, 2013
- Baltimore Sun, "Maryland gun-control opponents won't seek referendum," April 17, 2013
- AL.com, "Senate delays action on bill to create Fair Ballot Commission," April 18, 2013