Difference between revisions of "Distribution requirement"

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
(See also)
(For)
Line 5: Line 5:
 
===For===
 
===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.  
+
Supporters of distribution requirements have argued:
 +
 
 +
* Distribution requirements 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.
 +
 
 +
* Voters have approved of distribution requirements.  Examples include [[Alaska Distribution Requirement for Initiatives (2004)]].
  
 
===Against===
 
===Against===

Revision as of 13:56, 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 have argued:

  • Distribution requirements 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)