Ballotpedia's exclusive preview of the November 6, 2012 statewide ballot measures

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October 22, 2012

By Al Ortiz

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November 6 is the day voters across the United States of America will step into voting booths and pull the lever to record their choice for the office of president.

Not only will citizens be voting to make history, but they will also be voting on key issues that they will find at the bottom of their ballot - statewide ballot measures.

Ranging drastically in topic, these November measures are stretched out across the country in each state except for 13, so far. For the entire year, there are 188 ballot measures in 39 states, and 176 of those are on the general election ballot in 38 states. While ballot measures differ from state to state, all bring a potentially significant impact for voters who may or may not choose to enact them.

Preview

Historically, even-numbered election years feature significantly higher measures than odd-numbered years. In 2010 alone, 184 ballot questions were certified for spots on 38 statewide ballots. In comparison, only 34 ballot measures were on the ballot in 9 states in 2011.

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A total of 8 elections on statewide ballot measures were scheduled for 2012.

This year, veto referendums exploded on the scene. In 2008, 6 veto referendums were on the ballot for voters to decide on. Two years later in the next even-numbered election year, in 2010, only 4 made the ballot. This year, 13 veto referendums will appear, or have appeared, on the ballot for 2012. 11 of those measures will appear on the fall election ballot. Referendums this year challenged a variety of legislation including same-sex marriage, medical marijuana and redistricting.

With Legislative referrals, there was a decrease in 2012, with 119 on the ballot, not including advisory questions and automatic ballot referrals. In 2010, there were 134 legislative referrals that were sent to the ballot, leaving this year with 15 less referrals. However, in the last presidential election in 2008, there were only 100 legislative referrals on the ballot, 19 less than 2012.

Ballot initiatives saw a slight increase from 2010, with 50 citizen-initiatives on the ballot, four more than in 2010. However, compared to 2008, this year's total falls short of that year's by 18.

Between legislative referrals and ballot initiatives, the topic mostly on the ballot is taxes, with those questions relating to both decreases and increases for sales, property and income taxes. Social issues among ballot measures that are getting attention from both campaigns and media coverage include medical marijuana, health care, marriage, hunting and gambling.

Also on the ballot are three constitutional convention questions that were automatically referred to the ballot due to provisions in those respective states' constitutions.

The following are the top five political issues that have been placed on the ballot for 2012.

Top Issues # measures per issue
Taxes 35
Administration of government 24
Bond issues 17
State judiciary 10
Law enforcement 8
Read more about these issues in the following sections in this report.

A breakdown of ballot measure numbers

  • Since 2000, the most number of measures to appear on statewide ballots was in 2006, when 226 measures were voted on.

Types

The following sections contain statistics for ballot measures that are on the ballot this year.

The sections are broken up into types of ballot measures that are on the ballot. The types of ballot measures are legislatively-referred constitutional amendments, initiated constitutional amendments, legislatively-referred state statutes, initiated state statutes, veto referendums, advisory questions, and automatic ballot referrals (constitutional convention questions).

The charts shown in each section include information on: how many of those types of measures are on the ballot in 2012, how many have so far been approved and defeated in previous 2012 elections, and how many are on the November 6, 2012 general election ballot.

Constitutional amendments on the 2012 ballot


Legislatively-referred

A legislatively-referred constitutional amendment is a proposed constitutional amendment that appears on a state's ballot as a ballot measure because the state legislature in that state voted to put it before the voters.

Total States Approved Approveda Defeated Defeatedd November 6
99 32 4 0 95


Notable legislatively-referred constitutional amendments include the following measures. Measures below are highlighted based on media coverage and campaign attention:

  • Florida Amendment 6: Would prohibit the use of public funds for abortions except as required by federal law and to save the mother's life.
  • Minnesota Constitutional Amendment 1: Would define marriage in the Minnesota Constitution as between one man and one woman in the state.
  • Healthcare amendments: Legislatively-referred amendments to prohibit mandatory participation in any health care system are on the ballot in Alabama, Florida and Wyoming.


States with legislatively-referred constitutional amendments on the ballot:

Citizen-initiated

A citizen-initiated constitutional amendment is a means by which a petition signed by a certain minimum number of registered voters can bring about a public vote on a proposed constitutional amendment.

Total States Approved Approveda Defeated Defeatedd November 6
20 9 1 2 17


Notable initiated constitutional amendments include the following measures. Measures below are highlighted based on media coverage and campaign attention:

  • Arizona Proposition 121: Would implement a top-two style open primary system. In a top-two open primary, candidates for a government position run on the same primary ballot regardless of party affiliation.
  • Michigan Proposal 5: Would require that increases in state taxes must be approved by either a 2/3 majority in the Legislature or by a statewide vote
  • California Proposition 30: Raises California’s sales tax to 7.5% from 7.25%, a 3.45% percentage increase over current law.
  • Colorado Amendment 64: Would legalize marijuana in the state.


States with initiated constitutional amendments on the ballot:

State statutes on the 2012 ballot


Legislatively-referred

Did you know?
Delaware is the only state that only allows residents to vote on legislatively-referred state statutes and constitutional convention questions.[1]

A legislatively-referred state statute is a statute that appears on a state's ballot as a ballot measure because the state legislature in that state voted to put it before the voters.

Total States Approved Approveda Defeated Defeatedd November 6
20 9 0 0 20

Notable legislatively-referred state statutes include the following measures. Measures below are highlighted based on media coverage and campaign attention:

  • Arkansas Issue 1: Would implement a five-cent diesel tax to an existing bond issue for highway 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.

States with legislatively-referred state statutes on the ballot:

Citizen-initiated

A citizen-initiated state statute is a means by which a petition signed by a certain minimum number of registered voters can bring about a public vote on a proposed state statute.

Total States Approved Approveda Defeated Defeatedd November 6
30 12 2 1 27

Notable initiated state statutes include the following measures. Measures below are highlighted based on media coverage and campaign attention:

  • California Proposition 38: Increase state income tax rates for most Californians. The state income tax increase would end after 12 years, unless voters reauthorize it.
  • Massachusetts Question 2: Would allow for a terminally ill patient to be given lethal drugs, upon consent.
  • Marijuana measures: Measures regarding marijuana in some form are on the ballot in Massachusetts, Arkansas and Oregon.


States with initiated state statutes on the ballot:

Advisory questions on the 2012 ballot


An Advisory Question is a type of ballot measure in which citizens vote on a non-binding question. The largest difference between an advisory vote and any other type of ballot measure is that the outcome of the ballot question will not result in a new, changed, or rejected law or constitutional amendment. Rather, the advisory question symbolically makes heard the general opinion of the voting population in regard to the issue at hand.

Legislatively-referred

The following are advisory questions that were placed on the ballot by legislative referral:

Total States Approved Approveda Defeated Defeatedd November 6
2 1 0 0 2

The following are the legislatively-referred advisory questions on the ballot this year:

  • Washington Advisory Vote 1: Asks voters whether they would want to improve the long-term sustainability of the state budget by tweaking certain state taxes.
  • Washington Advisory Vote 2: The measure asks voters whether they would want to delay the expiration of the pollution liability insurance agency's funding to July 1, 2020.

States with legislatively-referred advisory questions on the ballot:

Citizen-initiated

The following is an advisory question that was placed on the ballot by citizen initiative:

Total States Approved Approveda Defeated Defeatedd November 6
1 1 0 0 1

The following are the citizen-initiated advisory questions on the ballot this year:

  • Colorado Amendment 65: Urges the state to support tweaks in state policy on limiting corporate contributions and expenditures in state and national elections.

States with a citizen-initiated advisory question on the ballot:


Veto referendums on the 2012 ballot


A veto referendum occurs when a legislative body enacts a new law that draws opposition. A group that opposes the new law collects enough signatures within the statutory timeframe in that state to place that new law on a ballot for the voters in the relevant political subdivision to either ratify the new law, or reject it.

Ballot measure wording of veto referendums have been the subject to voter confusion before. For example, if a legislative law that is the target of a referendum lands on the ballot, election officials may choose the following:

  • A yes vote could mean to enact the legislative bill and a no vote could reject it.
  • A yes vote could mean to reject the legislative bill and a no vote could keep it in place.

Therefore, the following chart shows rejected and approved laws based on how states worded those veto referendums that have been voted on this year.

Total States Approved Approveda Defeated Defeatedd November 6
13 9 1[2] -[3] 11

The following are notable veto referendums that are on the ballot:

  • California Proposition 40: An attempt to use California's veto referendum process to nullify the California State Senate redistricting plan approved by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.
  • Washington Referendum 74: Asks voters if same-sex marriage should be legalized in the state of Washington.

States with veto referendums on the ballot:

Did you know?
The last constitutional convention question to be "approved" by voters was in 1996 in Hawaii. However, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that blank votes be counted as "no" votes, therefore leaving the question as rejected.[1]


Constitutional conventions on the 2012 ballot


In some states, the question of whether to hold a constitutional convention is automatically referred to a statewide ballot without any requirement for a vote of the state legislature to place the question on the ballot.

A constitutional convention is a gathering of elected delegates who propose revisions and amendments to a constitution. 233 constitutional conventions to deliberate on state-level constitutions have been held in the United States.

Total States Approved Approveda Defeated Defeatedd November 6
3 3 0 0 3

The constitutional convention questions that are on the ballot are in Alaska, New Hampshire and Ohio

States with constitutional convention questions on the ballot:

Timeline

The following is a timeline of ballot measure elections that took place in 2012:

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Stay tuned for...

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This report is a November preview of ballot measures that are on the ballot in 2012, but stay tuned for detailed reports on each of these subject areas including an overview of 2012 as a whole.

Ballotpedia will be conducting an analysis on all 2012 ballot measures after the election takes place that will cover:

  • Statistical summary of 2012 ballot measures that were approved and defeated.
  • Citizen-initiative and legislative referral changes in comparison to 2010.
  • An in-depth look of issues on the ballot, including what results occurred with certain hot-topic issues.
  • Campaign contributions broken down by state and issue on the ballot.


See also

Ballotpedia News

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  2. This North Dakota referendum was approved.
  3. In a rare occurrence, a Georgia measure in July called for 12 tax districts to chime in on the measure. This infrequent referendum was sent to the ballot by the state legislature, and results varied from district to district.