Difference between revisions of "Distribution requirement"

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{{TOCnestright}}A '''distribution requirement''' is a legislative or state constitutional mandate requiring that [[petition|petitions]] for a [[ballot measure]] must be signed by voters from different political subdivisions – such as counties – in order for the ballot measure to qualify for the ballot. Distribution requirements have been struck down in five states, and are currently under legal challenge in three.
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{{TOCnestright}}A '''distribution requirement''' is a [[statute|statutory]] or [[constitutional amendment|constitutional mandate]] requiring that [[petition|petitions]] for a [[ballot measure]] or a candidate must be signed by voters from different political subdivisions in order for the ballot measure or candidate to qualify for the ballot.  
  
Supporters of distribution requirements argue that they are a way of demonstrating “widespread support” for a ballot measure because registered voters from a variety of political subdivisions signed petitions for the ballot measure. In reality, these requirements diminish the voice of voters in certain districts while unfairly amplifying the voice of voters in others.
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==Arguments==
  
Distribution requirements can significantly drive up the cost of petition drives by forcing signatures to be collected in sparsely populated areas. Federal courts have ruled that these requirements are so onerous on the free speech rights of petition proponents that they violate the constitution. In addition, courts have ruled that distribution requirements violate the equal protection clause – one person, one vote – because they require distribution over subdivisions that aren’t equal in population. Distribution requirements have been struck down in Illinois, Idaho, Utah, Montana, and twice in Nevada.
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===For===
  
The following states currently have distribution requirements: Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Utah, and Wyoming.
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Supporters of distribution requirements argue that they are a way of demonstrating widespread support for a ballot measure or candidate because registered voters from a variety of political subdivisions signed petitions for the ballot measure.  
  
Currently, distribution requirements are under legal challenge in Nebraska, Nevada, and Ohio.
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===Against===
  
==States with==
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Those who argue against distribution requirements have mentioned these considerations:
  
*[[Alaska signature requirements|Alaska]].  Signatures from each of 30 districts to be at least equal to seven percent of the voters who voted in each of these districts in the last general election.  An older requirement, changed with the passage in 2004 of the [[Alaska Distribution Requirement for Initiatives (2004)|Distribution Requirement for Initiatives Act]] in 2004, was that at least one voter needed to sign from each of at least 27 districts.
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* Distribution requirements can significantly drive up the cost of petition drives by forcing signatures to be collected in sparsely populated areas.
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* Federal courts have ruled that these requirements are so onerous on the free speech rights of petition proponents that they violate the constitution.
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* Courts have ruled that distribution requirements violate the equal protection clause – one person, one vote – because they require distribution over subdivisions that aren’t equal in population.
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* Distribution requirements diminish the voice of voters in certain districts while unfairly amplifying the voice of voters in others.
  
* [[Laws governing the initiative process in Arkansas|Arkansas]].  5% in 15 of 75 counties.
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==Distribution requirements for initiatives==
  
* [[Laws governing the initiative process in Florida|Florida]].  8% in 12 of 23 congressional districts.
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===States with===
  
* [[Maryland signature requirements|Maryland]]. No more than half of required signatures may be from any one county or Baltimore City.
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{|class="wikitable" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="5" border="1" style="background:none" style="width:80%;"
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|-
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! style="background-color:#00008B; color: white;" | State
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! style="background-color:#00008B; color: white;" | Requirement for initiated statute
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! style="background-color:#00008B; color: white;" | Requirement for initiated amendment
  
* [[Laws governing the initiative process in Massachusetts|Massachusetts]]. No more than one-quarter of the certified signatures may come from any one county.
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|-
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| [[Alaska signature requirements|Alaska]]
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| Signatures from 7% of those who voted in the previous general election in at least 75% of the state’s 40 [[Alaska House of Representatives|state house districts]].
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| align="center" | NA
  
* [[Laws governing the initiative process in Mississippi|Mississippi]].  20% from each congressional district.
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|-
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| [[Arkansas signature requirements|Arkansas]]
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| 4% of votes cast for governor in each of at least 15 of 75 counties
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| 5% of votes cast for governor in each of at least 15 of 75 counties
  
* [[Laws governing the initiative process in Missouri|Missouri]].  Sponsors must collect a minimum threshold of signatures in 6 out of Missouri's 9 U.S. congressional districts.
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|-
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| [[Florida signature requirements|Florida]]
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| align="center" | NA
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| 8% in at least 13 of Florida's 25 congressional districts
  
* [[Laws governing the initiative process in Montana|Montana]].  For a statute, 5% in 34 of 50 legislative districts.  For an amendment, 10% in 40 out of the 50 state legislative districts.
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|-
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| [[Massachusetts signature requirements|Massachusetts]]
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| No more than 25% of signatures may be from one county
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| No more than 25% of signatures may be from one county
  
* [[Laws governing the initiative process in Nebraska|Nebraska]].  In Nebraska, signatures over a threshold determined by whether the petition is for a [[statute]] or a [[constitutional amendment]] must be collected in a minimum of 40% (or 38) of Nebraska's 93 counties.
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|-
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| [[Mississippi signature requirements|Mississippi]]
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| align="center" | NA
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| Signatures must be equally divided among state's congressional districts as they existed immediately prior to the adoption of Mississippi's current four congressional districts
  
* [[Laws governing the initiative process in Nevada|Nevada]].  In 2009, the legislature passed a requirement that circulators must collect the signatures of 10 percent of the turnout in the most recent election in each of the state's Congressional districts. This makes the overall number of signatures required to qualify an initiative for the ballot 60% higher.<ref>[http://www.newamerica.net/blog/blockbuster-democracy/2009/harder-access-ballot-nevada-14303 ''Blockbuster Democracy'', "Harder to Access the Ballot in Nevada", September 2, 2009]</ref>
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|-
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| [[Missouri signature requirements|Missouri]]
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| 5% of votes cast in last gubernatorial election from 6 of 9 congressional districts
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| 8% of votes cast in last gubernatorial election from 6 of 9 congressional districts
  
* [[Laws governing the initiative process in Ohio|Ohio]].  In Ohio, signatures for both amendments and statutes must be obtained from at least 44 of the 88 counties of the state.
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|-
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| [[Montana signature requirements|Montana]]
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| 5% of qualified voters in each of 34 [[Montana State Legislature|state legislative]] districts
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| 10% of qualified voters in each of 40 [[Montana State Legislature|state legislative]] districts
  
* [[Laws governing the initiative process in Utah|Utah]]. For direct initiatives, proponents must gather 10% of the vote cast in at least 20 of Utah's 29 counties. For indirect initiatives, proponents must gather 5% in at least 20 of 29 counties.
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|-
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| [[Nebraska signature requirements|Nebraska]]
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| 5% of registered voters in 38 of 93 counties<ref name=NEsigs>The number of registered voters for the purposes of making this calculation is the number of registered voters in the county as of the filing deadline for signatures</ref>
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| 5% of registered voters in 38 of 93 counties<ref name=NEsigs/>
  
* [[Laws governing the initiative process in Wyoming|Wyoming]].  15% of total votes cast in the last election from at least 2/3 of the counties. If [[Wyoming Constitutional Amendment B (2008)]] passed, the new requirement would have been 15% of votes cast in the last election from 2/3rds of the state's thirty state senate districts.
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|-
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| [[Nevada signature requirements|Nevada]]
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| 10% of total votes cast in most recent general election in each of Nevada's congressional districts, plus at least 18 signatures from Clark County<ref name=nvsigs>[http://nvsos.gov/index.aspx?page=75 Nevada signature requirements]</ref>
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| 10% of total votes cast in most recent general election in each of Nevada's congressional districts, plus at least 18 signatures from Clark County<ref name=nvsigs/>
  
==States without==
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|-
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| [[Ohio signature requirements|Ohio]]
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| 1.5% of votes cast for most recent gubernatorial election in each of 44 of Ohio's 88 counties
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| 5% of votes cast in most recent gubernatorial election in each of 44 of Ohio's 88 counties
  
*[[Laws governing the initiative process in Arizona|Arizona]], [[Laws governing the initiative process in California|California]], [[Laws governing the initiative process in Colorado|Colorado]], [[Laws governing the initiative process in Idaho|Idaho]], [[Laws governing the initiative process in Maine|Maine]], [[Michigan Initiative and Referendum Law|Michigan]], [[Laws governing the initiative process in North Dakota|North Dakota]], [[Oklahoma Initiative and Referendum Law|Oklahoma]], [[Oregon Initiative and Referendum Law|Oregon]], [[South Dakota Initiative and Referendum Law|South Dakota]] and [[Laws governing the initiative process in Washington|Washington]].
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|-
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| [[Utah signature requirements|Utah]]
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| '''Direct:''' 10% of votes cast in most recent gubernatorial election in at least 26 of 29 [[Utah State Senate|state senate]] districts.<br>'''Indirect:''' 5% of votes cast in most recent gubernatorial election in at least 26 of 29 [[Utah State Senate|state senate]] districts.<ref>[http://www.citizensincharge.org/files/2010report-utah.pdf Utah signature requirements]</ref>
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| align="center" | NA
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|-
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| [[Wyoming signature requirements|Wyoming]]
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| 15% of residents in at least 2/3 of Utah's 33 counties
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| align="center" | NA
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|}
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===States without===
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* [[Arizona signature requirements|Arizona]]
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* [[California signature requirements|California]]
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* [[Colorado signature requirements|Colorado]]
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* [[Idaho signature requirements|Idaho]]. Idaho’s geographic distribution requirement was held unconstitutional by US District Court in December 2001, and that decision was upheld by 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in September 2003. It required that signatures include 6% of the registered voters in each of 22 counties.
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* [[Illinois]]
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* [[Maine signature requirements|Maine]]
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* [[Michigan signature requirements|Michigan]]
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* [[North Dakota signature requirements|North Dakota]]
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* [[Oklahoma signature requirements|Oklahoma]]
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* [[Oregon signature requirements|Oregon]]
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* [[South Dakota signature requirements|South Dakota]]
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* [[Washington signature requirements|Washington]]
  
 
==Legal challenges==
 
==Legal challenges==

Revision as of 13:46, 30 May 2010

A distribution requirement is a statutory or constitutional mandate requiring that petitions for a ballot measure or a candidate must be signed by voters from different political subdivisions in order for the ballot measure or candidate to qualify for the ballot.

Arguments

For

Supporters of distribution requirements argue that they are a way of demonstrating widespread support for a ballot measure or candidate because registered voters from a variety of political subdivisions signed petitions for the ballot measure.

Against

Those who argue against distribution requirements have mentioned these considerations:

  • Distribution requirements can significantly drive up the cost of petition drives by forcing signatures to be collected in sparsely populated areas.
  • Federal courts have ruled that these requirements are so onerous on the free speech rights of petition proponents that they violate the constitution.
  • Courts have ruled that distribution requirements violate the equal protection clause – one person, one vote – because they require distribution over subdivisions that aren’t equal in population.
  • Distribution requirements diminish the voice of voters in certain districts while unfairly amplifying the voice of voters in others.

Distribution requirements for initiatives

States with

State Requirement for initiated statute Requirement for initiated amendment
Alaska Signatures from 7% of those who voted in the previous general election in at least 75% of the state’s 40 state house districts. NA
Arkansas 4% of votes cast for governor in each of at least 15 of 75 counties 5% of votes cast for governor in each of at least 15 of 75 counties
Florida NA 8% in at least 13 of Florida's 25 congressional districts
Massachusetts No more than 25% of signatures may be from one county No more than 25% of signatures may be from one county
Mississippi NA Signatures must be equally divided among state's congressional districts as they existed immediately prior to the adoption of Mississippi's current four congressional districts
Missouri 5% of votes cast in last gubernatorial election from 6 of 9 congressional districts 8% of votes cast in last gubernatorial election from 6 of 9 congressional districts
Montana 5% of qualified voters in each of 34 state legislative districts 10% of qualified voters in each of 40 state legislative districts
Nebraska 5% of registered voters in 38 of 93 counties[1] 5% of registered voters in 38 of 93 counties[1]
Nevada 10% of total votes cast in most recent general election in each of Nevada's congressional districts, plus at least 18 signatures from Clark County[2] 10% of total votes cast in most recent general election in each of Nevada's congressional districts, plus at least 18 signatures from Clark County[2]
Ohio 1.5% of votes cast for most recent gubernatorial election in each of 44 of Ohio's 88 counties 5% of votes cast in most recent gubernatorial election in each of 44 of Ohio's 88 counties
Utah Direct: 10% of votes cast in most recent gubernatorial election in at least 26 of 29 state senate districts.
Indirect: 5% of votes cast in most recent gubernatorial election in at least 26 of 29 state senate districts.[3]
NA
Wyoming 15% of residents in at least 2/3 of Utah's 33 counties NA

States without

Legal challenges

  • In 1969, in the case of Moore v. Ogilvie, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an Illinois distribution requirement saying that it "applies a rigid, arbitrary formula to sparsely settled counties and populous counties alike, and thus discriminates against the residents of the populous counties in the exercise of their political rights in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment."
  • In 2002, in the case of Gallivan v. Walker, the Utah Supreme Court struck down Utah's distribution requirement, declaring that the initiative right is a "fundamental right implicit in a free society" and that the distribution requirement impinged on it.
  • In the 2005 federal court case Montana PIRG v. Johnson, a distribution requirement in Montana was declared unconstitutional.

Petition sponsors in states with distribution requirements face the difficult decision of whether to comply with a requirement that may be unconstitutional, or filing a federal lawsuit. Since the costs of such litigation can easily exceed $100,000, and since the litigation might take years, as a practical matter, most petition sponsors elect to comply with a law that may be unconstitutional.

Statutory proposals

Colorado

Defeatedd SCR 3: This law would add a distribution requirement to the petition process for initiated constitutional amendments in Colorado, which currently does not have one. Specifically, it would:

  • Require that 5% of the minimum total number of signatures on petitions must be gathered from residents in each of Colorado's U.S. Congressional districts.
  • Require a 60% supermajority vote to pass an initiated constitutional amendment, with the exception that it would only take a simple majority vote to repeal provisions of the Colorado Constitution in existence prior to the 2011 odd-year election or to certain amendments related to Amendment 61 (2010). The resolution was defeated by the Colorado Senate on May 11, 2010 on a 20-13 vote with 2 Senators not voting[6].

See also

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 The number of registered voters for the purposes of making this calculation is the number of registered voters in the county as of the filing deadline for signatures
  2. 2.0 2.1 Nevada signature requirements
  3. Utah signature requirements
  4. Mercury News, "Federal judge strikes down Nev. ballot measure law", September 29, 2008
  5. Las Vegas Review Journal, "EDITORIAL: Petition requirements", October 2, 2008
  6. Colorado General Assembly "Senate Session Journal", May 11, 2010(See Page 1390, Lines 44 and 66)