Writing:Path to the ballot
For statewide ballot measures, a measure might have gotten on the ballot because:
- Signatures were collected. If signatures were collected, the measure is either:
- A state legislature voted to put it on the ballot. If the legislature voted to put it on the ballot, it is either:
- It was automatically referred to the ballot.
- A commission with the authority to place measures on the ballot did so.
If the measure you are writing about is an initiated constitutional amendment, an initiated state statute or a veto referendum, then signatures had to be collected and submitted to election officials in order for this measure to be qualified/certified to gain a spot on a ballot.
In this section, you should include an indented upper link to the article on Ballotpedia about the signature requirements in the state at question; that is, to Arizona signature requirements, Alaska signature requirements, etc. All of these articles are in the same form; the name of the state followed by "signature requirements."
Here's the minimum basic information you want to include in this section, and where you are likely to find it:
- If this measure is in a state where election officials have to certify/approve the form of the petition before it can be circulated, you should try to discover when the application was made to the state for permission to circulate, and when the state gave that permission. These two dates can then be reported in this section. The state agency in charge of providing this permission ought to provide this information on their website.
- What is or was the deadline for submitting the signatures? Consult Ballot initiative petition drive deadlines for this information.
- How many signatures are or were required? Consult signature requirements.
- How many signatures were submitted and when were they submitted? This information may have been reported by the sponsors on their website, reported in the news media, or reported on an official elections website. Or, it may not have been reported, especially the information about how many signatures were submitted. You can do some original reporting by calling the initiative sponsors but bear in mind the difficulties of independently verifying the numbers they report.
- Was a professional petition drive management company engaged to collect the signatures? If so, what is the name of that company (wiki-link to it) and how much were they paid? (To discover how much they were paid, you'll have to review the expenditures section of the campaign finance reports of the group that is sponsoring the initiative.)
- On what date was the ballot measure certified? Certifications by election officials happen on a specific date and ideally you will discover what that date was, and report it in this section.
Additional information that could be included:
- Relevant graphics or images. Here's an example.
- Any details you are or can become familiar with about the process election officials went through as they scrutinized the signatures. For example, was random sampling used?
- Information about events that occurred as part of the measure's petition drive. This would include issues with petition circulators.
- The validity rate, if election officials make this information available.
- Summarize what that means.
- Provide information about when the state legislature took up the question of whether or not to adopt the measure itself or refer a competing measure to the ballot, etc.
- Provide information about what the legislature did, upon consideration.
- Provide information about when the measure was certified to the ballot in consideration of the legislature's action or lack of action.
- If additional signatures had to be collected once the legislature declined to enact the legislation, report on that.
You can also provide support for important overview articles by:
- Carrying your information into 2010 ballot measure petition signature costs.
- Carrying the information you discover about how much the professional petition drive management company was paid into the article about that company, as in this example.
If the measure you are writing about is a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, a legislatively-referred state statute or a legislatively-referred bond measure, then the state legislature in the state in question had to vote to put it on the ballot.
In this section, if the measure is a referred amendment, you should include an indented upper link to the section in amending state constitutions that pertains to the state in question.
Here's the minimum basic information you want to include in this section:
- What is the name/title of the bill upon which the vote was taken that ended in this measure being referred to the ballot? This will be something like "House Joint Resolution 375," etc.
- Who are or were the main sponsors of the resolution to refer this measure to the ballot?
- On what date was the vote taken in the state senate to refer the measure to the ballot, and what was the vote?
- On what date was the vote taken in the state assembly to refer the measure to the ballot, and what was the vote?
- What is the process in this state for a state legislature to refer something to the ballot? How many votes were needed and what other procedural hurdles had to be overcome?
- If the state in question is a state where the governor has to sign (or may veto) a referral, what did the governor do and when did he/she do it?
Additional information that could be included:
- A link to the section of the state's constitution that authorizes this legislature to refer questions to the ballot.
- Any quotes you run across by notable figures, such as the measure's sponsor, on the occasion of the votes taken to refer it to the ballot, or as to what motivated the sponsor(s) to advocate having this measure on the ballot.
- See also: Automatic ballot referral
If the measure you are writing about is an automatic ballot referral, that means that in the state in question, there is some constitutional or other provision that mandates that election officials must place the question on the ballot, regardless of whether any governing bodies do or don't do anything in the year in question.
The most typical form of an automatic referral is a constitutional convention question. 14 states require that the question of whether to hold a convention go before the voters at certain set intervals (every 10 years, every 16 years, or every 20 years).
In the "Path to the ballot" section of a measure that is an automatic referral, you want to be clear about how this measure got on the ballot, because your readers are likely to be very unfamiliar with the concept of an automatic referral.
Minimum information to include:
- The fact that this measure was automatically referred.
- Links to other articles that describe exactly what that means, along with a summary of that information in this section.
- Information about what the rules are governing automatic referrals in this state: Since when has this state had automatic referrals? What provision of the constitution mandates this? (Wiki-link to it.)
- See also: Commission-referred ballot measure
If the measure you are writing about is a commission referral, that means that in the state in question, there is some arrangement whereby a duly-appointed commission is allowed, without any additional authority or review, to place a ballot measure on the ballot.
There should be an article on Ballotpedia about the commission that is allowed to do that. You should include an indented upper link to that article.
Minimum information to include:
- The name of the referring commission.
- When they met.
- How this commission was authorized.
- How the members of this commission were chosen, how many there are and so forth. This information should be available in detail in the article about that body. In this section of your article, you want a summary that hits the highlights.
An example of the most common "path to the ballot" section format:
==Path to the ballot== :: ''See also: [[Legislatively-referred_constitutional_amendment#2.2F3rds_supermajority|Louisiana legislatively-referred constitutional amendments]]'' If 2/3rds of the members of both houses of the [[Louisiana State Legislature]] vote in the affirmative, a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment could be placed on the statewide ballot. * On [[BC2011#April|April 4, 2011]] the House voted 96-0 to refer the measure to the ballot. * The Senate approved the measure following a 36-0 vote on [[BC2011#April|April 13, 2011]]. * The measure was referred to the ballot on [[BC2011#April|April 14, 2011]].
Which would appear as:
If 2/3rds of the members of both houses of the Louisiana State Legislature vote in the affirmative, a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment could be placed on the statewide ballot.
- On April 4, 2011 the House voted 96-0 to refer the measure to the ballot.
- The Senate approved the measure following a 36-0 vote on April 13, 2011.
- The measure was referred to the ballot on April 14, 2011.
A more complex "path to the ballot" section be formatted with various sub-sections as follows:
==Path to the ballot== State requirement for initiatives....# of signatures required by "date." ===Submitted signatures=== Chart of signatures and dates they were submitted ===Signature verification=== The verification process: when signatures were checked, how many were valid, how many were invalid. ===Lawsuit filed=== If a lawsuit was filed against the petition signature process (challenge to the verification process for example) you may want to add such a subsection. ===Petition fraud=== If fraud was discovered during the petition process, you may want to note that in a subsection like "petition fraud."