"5 Best" and "5 Worst" lists of 2010 ballot measures

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by Leslie Graves, Bailey Ludlam and Al Ortiz

Making lists of the best and worst ballot propositions on the ballot is a time-honored way for political pundits and advocates to pare down the many dozens of measures in dozens of state to shine a light on those that strike a chord as being particularly interesting, noteworthy, controversial or trend-setting.

In 2010, Josh Goodman at Governing has weighed in with Four Ballot Measures the Political Establishment Hates, Paul Jacob has his list of The 10 measures to watch, and Justin Elliott at Salon has drawn up a list of The five most alarming right-wing ballot initiatives.

What's your take? From now through the election, we'll be collecting the lists we find and the lists you send us. We'll be soliciting lists as well. If you manage a website or an e-list, we encourage you to ask your readers what they think. We'll tweet any list you publish, and we're starting a scorecard here as well.

See specific lists at Lists and commentary about 2010 ballot measures

If you'd like to submit a list directly to us, or if you've published a list on your website and you'd like us to include it, please email Leslie Graves or Bailey Ludlam.

Political topics

There are 159 ballot measures on the November 2 ballot in 36 states. The list below is a selection of 58 of the most notable, most discussed and in some cases, most controversial ballot measures.[1]

Subject State Ballot measure Description
Abortion Colorado Amendment 62 Fertilized egg to be defined as a person
Affirmative action Arizona Proposition 107 Government entities banned from race/gender preferences
Alcohol Washington I-1100 Privatize state liquor stores,
Alcohol Washington I-1105 Privatize state liquor stores, revise licensing laws
Animals Missouri Proposition B Adopt new rules for dog-breeders in the state
Campaign finance Florida Amendment 1 Repeal of public financing of statewide candidates who agree to spending limits
Education Florida Amendment 8 Changes the current "maximum" class sizes to school-wide "average" class sizes
Education Idaho SJR 101 Impose rates of tuition and fees on students in the University of Idaho
Education Oklahoma SJR 101 Mandates level of spending State of Oklahoma must provide to public schools
Eminent domain Nevada Question 4 Make it easier for gov't agencies to use eminent domain
English Oklahoma SQ 751 Declaration that English is the official language of Oklahoma
Environment California Proposition 23 Suspend AB 32, the "Global Warming Solutions Act" until unemployment falls below 5.5%
Gambling Maine Question 1 Authorize a casino in Oxford, Maine
Health care Arizona Proposition 106 Can't be forced to buy health insurance
Health care Colorado Amendment 63 Can't be forced to buy health insurance
Health care Oklahoma SQ 756 Can't be forced to buy health insurance
Hunting Montana I-161 Increase big game license fees
Hunting North Dakota Measure 2 Impose a ban on fenced hunting
Judicial reform Nevada Question 1 Appoint (instead of elect) state court judges
Judicial reform Oklahoma SQ 755 Oklahoma judges not allowed to use international law, including Sharia Law
Labor Arizona Amendment A Union elections by secret ballot
Labor South Carolina Amendment 2 Union elections by secret ballot
Labor South Dakota Amendment K Union elections by secret ballot
Labor Utah Amendment A Union elections by secret ballot
Labor Washington I-1082 Privatize industrial worker's comp insurance
Law enforcement Michigan Proposal 2 Politicians can't be felons
Law enforcement North Carolina SL 2010-49 Sheriffs can't be convicted felons
Law enforcement Oregon Measure 73 Increased minimum sentence for some sex crimes and repeat DUIs
Marijuana Arizona Proposition 203 Medical marijuana
Marijuana California Proposition 19 Legalize marijuana
Marijuana Oregon Measure 74 Medical marijuana
Marijuana South Dakota Init. Measure 13 Medical marijuana
Property rights Florida Amendment 4 Voter approval required for all changes to land-use plans ("Hometown Democracy")
Recall Illinois Recall Amendment Create a system whereby the Governor of Illinois could be recalled
Redistricting California Proposition 20 Congressional district lines to be re-drawn by a committee
Redistricting California Proposition 27 Return task of redistricting to the California State Legislature (repealing Prop 11)
Redistricting Florida Amendment 5 Amends the current practice of drawing legislative district boundaries
Redistricting Florida Amendment 6 Amends the current practice of drawing congressional district boundaries
Redistricting Oklahoma SQ 748 Change method of appointing member to re-apportionment commission
Spending/taxes Arizona Proposition 302 Take dedicated funds from child-health program, put into general fund
Spending/taxes California Proposition 25 Simple majority, not 2/3rds vote, required for legislature to pass state budget
Spending/taxes California Proposition 26 2/3rds vote required to enact new taxes/fees
Spending/taxes Colorado Amendment 60 Property tax limits, rollbacks
Spending/taxes Colorado Amendment 61 Forbid debt by loans in any form
Spending/taxes Colorado Amendment 61 Forbid debt by loans in any form
Spending/taxes Colorado Proposition 101 Eliminate vehicle taxes, repeal alternative minimum tax, other tax changes
Spending/taxes Indiana Public Question 1 Put property tax caps in Indiana Constitution
Spending/taxes Louisiana Amendment 1 Increase salaries of elected officials in state
Spending/taxes Massachusetts Question 1 Eliminate sales tax on alcohol
Spending/taxes Massachusetts Question 3 Roll 6.25% sales tax back to 3%
Spending/taxes Missouri Amendment 3 Prohibit taxes for the sale/transfer of homes or any other real estate
Spending/taxes Missouri Proposition A Cities with earnings taxes would periodically have to put up for public vote
Spending/taxes Montana CI-105 Prohibit any new tax on the sale or transfer of real property
Spending/taxes North Dakota Measure 1 Certain oil and gas tax revenues to be deposited in a "state legacy fund"
Spending/taxes Oklahoma SJR 101 Mandates level of spending State of Oklahoma must provide to public schools
Spending/taxes Washington I-1053 Re-instate requirement of a supermajority vote in state legislature to raise taxes
Spending/taxes Washington I-1098 Taxes gross income above $200,000 for individuals, $400,000 for couples, reduce property tax 4%
Smoking South Dakota Referred Law 12 Statewide smoking ban including in bars, casinos
Voting rights Oklahoma SQ 746 Potential voters must provide proof of identity


  1. Inclusion of specific ballot questions in the list is somewhat subjective. The list isn't intended as a pronouncement on which ballot questions are this year's most noteworthy or controversial but as a discussion starter. If you believe that a ballot measure should be added, please do add it. There are a number of ballot questions on the 2010 ballot, as there are every year, that were referred by state legislatures and are not likely to attract much controversy or opposition. In this category one might include the 7 statewide measures that offer a variety of tax exemptions or benefits to veterans. In a manner of speaking, some of these generally non-controversial measures might be among the year's best. This list, though, is about the ballot propositions that are more controversial that might yet be regarded as some as among the year's best.