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The Tuesday Count: With certifications all but over, measure previews begin

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October 2, 2012

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By Al Ortiz and Eric Veram

In what will probably be a common theme until the November elections, no measures have been added to the ballot this week. The count still stands a solid high of 186 measures in 38 states. 12 of those measures have been decided by voters, leaving 174 left to be voted on in 37 states by the time November 6 rolls around.

The count of 186 is two higher than the 2010 ballot measure count, but still leaves 2006 as the year with the most measures on the ballot this century with 226.

For 2012, there has been plenty of activity in all levels of ballot measure types, particularly in legislative referrals. Legislative referrals or legislatively-referred ballot measures are ballot measures that appear on a state's ballot courtesy of a vote by the state legislature, rather than through the initiative or referendum process. These measures, depending on the state in question, can either amend a state's constitution or enact a change in a state statute.

In all, there were 117 legislative referrals sent to the ballot in 2012. Of those 117, 113 are on general election ballots in 31 states.

Starting with legislatively-referred constitutional amendments, there are 97 total on ballots across the country, with 93 slated for the fall ballot. So far, four have been approved, and none have been defeated.

Notable legislatively-referred constitutional amendments on the ballot include:

  • Florida Amendment 6, which would prohibit the use of public funds for abortions except as required by federal law and to save the mother's life.
  • Healthcare amendments: Legislatively-referred amendments to prohibit mandatory participation in any health care system are on the ballot in Alabama, Florida and Wyoming.

Legislatively-referred state statute, another type of legislative referral, is a statute that appears on a state's ballot because the state legislature in that state voted to put it before the voters. In all, 20 of those types of measures are set in stone for November in 9 states, significantly less than constitutional amendments. None have been voted on in previous 2012 elections. Some notable legislatively-referred state statutes include:

  • Arkansas Issue 1 would implement a one-half percent sales tax to for state transportation needs.
  • Maryland Question 7 would allow one additional casino to be constructed in Prince George's County.
  • Montana LR-120 relates to parental rights in the act of a minor's abortion, where parents would be notified before the process would take place.
More about 2012 ballot measures can be found out in Ballotpedia's exclusive 2012 ballot measure preview here.

Quick hits

New poll released on Maryland Question 6: A September 25-27, 2012, poll of 804 registered voters, conducted by the Baltimore Sun, found that 49% of Maryland voters are in favor of the same-sex marriage bill and voting 'yes' on the referendum; while 39% of Maryland voters are opposed to it, and another 12% undecided. The Baltimore Sun reported a margin of error of +/-3.5%.[1]

Recent Public Policy Polling study finds voters split over Minnesota Same-Sex Marriage Amendment: A poll conducted on September 10-11, by Public Policy Polling, shows an even split in Minnesota voters. The poll found that 48% of voters currently support the ban, 47% oppose it, and the remaining 5% are undecided. The survey was given to 824 likely voters and has a margin of error of +/-3.4%. The amendment would add a ban on same-sex marriage to the state constitution.[2]


Colorado city have two marijuana measures on the ballot - one local, one statewide

On November 6, 2012, all of Colorado will vote on Amendment 64, which would legalize recreational marijuana in the state. One city in Colorado, however, will have to vote on a second marijuana-related measure, but this one has a more local flavor to it.

A Fort Collins Marijuana Dispensary Ban Repeal Question seeks to repeal the Marijuana dispensary ban which was approved on November 1, 2011. Supporters of dispensaries in the city collected over 4,212 signatures, the required amount to place a measure on the city ballot. The city clerk verified the signatures on Tuesday, June 26. If approved, dispensaries would be allowed in the city again but not within 1,000 feet of schools or playgrounds and 500 feet from churches, child-care centers or recreational sites. There would also be a limit of 1 dispensary per 500 registered users in the city.

Medicinal marijuana is already legal in the state, so it is unclear if these dispensaries would stay medicinal or become recreational if the statewide Amendment 64 is approved.

A measure similar to Amendment 64 was on the 2006 ballot in the state, where it was defeated.

The Tuesday Count Spotlight highlights notable developments from local ballot measures across the country as well as international ballot measures.

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Arkansas Supreme Court orders Arkansas Medical Marijuana Question remain on the ballot: On Thursday, September 27, the court ruled in favor of keeping the measure on the ballot. A coalition of conservative groups, called the Coalition to Preserve Arkansas Values, filed a lawsuit against the measure with the Arkansas Supreme Court on Friday, August 31, arguing that the measure fails to properly inform voters. In response to the argument, the court wrote, "We hold that it is an adequate and fair representation without misleading tendencies or partisan coloring. Therefore, the act is proper for inclusion on the ballot at the general election on Nov. 6, 2012, and the petition is therefore denied."[3]

Hearing set for lawsuit over citizenship question on Michigan ballots: Detroit federal Judge Paul Borman has set Friday, October 5, as the date for a hearing on the citizenship question set to appear on Michigan ballots this November. Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson will be defending the question in court as a measure intending to fight voter fraud. The question appears at the top of the ballot and asks voters whether or not they are American citizens. The ACLU has filed suit over the question alleging that it will cause long lines at the ballot boxes and qualifies as voter intimidation.[4]

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See also

2012 ballot measures
Tuesday Count2012 Scorecard