Difference between revisions of "Laws governing local ballot measures in Delaware"

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'''Election procedure:''' After a successful and valid petition the process provides for an election whereby the 7 members of the commission  are selected.
  
 
'''Majority required:''' Those receiving the highest number of votes are placed on the amendment committee.  
 
'''Majority required:''' Those receiving the highest number of votes are placed on the amendment committee.  

Latest revision as of 17:00, 11 February 2014


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Laws Governing Local Ballot Measures

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Delaware Constitution
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Preamble
Articles
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There are only a few cities in Delaware that have an initiative process for local ballot measures. This article sets out the laws governing local ballot measures in Delaware. It explains:
  • Which local units of government make the initiative process available to residents.
  • How and whether local units of government, including school districts, can refer local ballot measures (such as school bond propositions) to the ballot.

Types of local government

Delaware has four types of local government: County, City, Town, and Village. State Law gives no authority for initiative or referendum of any kind to any of these local government units. Any authority for initiative and referendum comes from the local charter of a city or town.

  • There are three counties in Delaware: Kent County, New Castle County, and Sussex County. There is no provision for granting charters to counties in state law.
  • Municipalities all have charters granted by the State Assembly, but have little control over them. By Title 22, §802 of the Delaware State Statutes, cities and towns with a population of greater than 1,000 can amend their charters to grant Home rule powers, including initiative and referendum.
  • In addition, there are 259 special districts and 19 independent school districts.[1]

School districts

See also: School bond and tax elections in Delaware

In Delaware, school districts are required to have elections to approve excess or reduced tax levies or to issue new bonding. Delaware is one of a handful of states that require school districts to seek approval from state government as part of the process of approving a bond issue. All bond issues must be approved by the Delaware Attorney General before an election is called by the respective school board. Delaware has the least restrictive requirements in the nation for conducting an election because there are no mandatory notice requirements. Also, Delaware considers all school finance elections as special elections. Delaware school districts can also ask the voters for an additional surtax of ten percent to cover delinquencies in addition to whatever tax increase they ask the voters for.

Initiative process availability

Counties do not have initiative or referendum powers. Municipalities that have a population greater than 1,000 people have the authority to amend their charters according to the State Statute cited below. Such cities and towns can amend their charters to reserve powers of initiative and referendum although not many have done so. Following is a list of the few that do have charters that mention initiative and referendum.[2]

  • Delaware City has authority and procedures in its charter for ordinance initiative and referendum. Signatures numbering 25% of last election's voters are required.
  • Newport has authority and procedures in its charter for ordinance initiative and referendum. Signatures numbering 50% of last election's voters are required.
  • Cheswold has authority and procedures in its charter for referendum.
  • Bethanybeach has provision in its charter for a voter signature initiative for an "opinion poll", but not for a binding ballot measure initiative.[3]

There are 51 other charter cities and towns in Delaware. The ones that have a population qualifying them to amend their charters include:

Arden, Ardencroft, Bellefonte, Elsmere, Middletown, New Castle, Nework, Odessa, Townsend, Wilmington, Bowers, Camden, Clayton, Dover, Felton, Frederica, Harrington, Houston, Kenton, Leipsic, Little Creek, Magnolia, Milford, Smyrna, Viola, Woodside, Wyoming, Bethal, Blades, Bridgeville, Dagsboro, and Delmar.

Authority

Ballot Law Portal
Laws Governing Ballot Measures

Constitution

There is no mention of Initiative and Referendum for either ordinances or charter amendments in the State Constitution.

Statutes

Initiative process features


A guide to local ballot initiatives
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Local I&R Laws in the 50 States
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Source:Local Ballot Initiatives: How citizens change laws with
clipboards, conversations, and campaigns

Initiative process in the top 10 most populated cities

None of the top ten most populous cities have amended their charters to include any mention of initiative and referendum powers. See the initiative process availability section of this page for a list of which cities in Delaware do have local initiative and referendum powers for other than state mandated charter amendment.

List of Most Populated Cities in Delaware
City[6] Population City Type Next election
Wilmington 71,305 Charter No I&R
Dover 36,560 Charter No I&R
Newark 31,618 Charter No I&R
Middleton 18,995 Charter No I&R
Smyrna 10,180 Charter No I&R
Milford 9,709 Charter No I&R
Seaford 7,036 Charter No I&R
George 6,524 Charter No I&R
Elsmere 6,172 Charter No I&R
New Castle 5,320 Charter No I&R

External links

References

  1. The U.S. Census Bureau's 2012 study of local governments
  2. Types and Numbers for City Initiative and Referendum
  3. Delaware Charter Municipalities Research Sheet
  4. 4.0 4.1 Delaware State Statutes, Title 22
  5. 5.0 5.1 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  6. US Census Bureau "City and Town Totals: Vintage 2011 (Population figures as of 2011 Census estimates)