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Several states have made it illegal to compensate petition circulators based on how many signatures they are able to collect on petitions. It is an active area of litigation.
Alaska Republicans attempt ban
Alaska State Representatives Kyle Johansen (R-Ketchikan) and Charisse Millett (R-Anchorage) have introduced HB 36 in 2009 to make it illegal for initiative circulators to be paid on a per-signature basis. It would also make it illegal for initiative circulators to circulate more than one initiative at once.
Arizona legislature may ban
The Arizona Reform the Initiative Process Amendment (2010) has been proposed as a reform of Arizona's laws. One of its provisions if enacted would ban signature-gatherers from getting paid by signature or page.
California, proposed ban
- Senate Bill 24, sponsored by Democrat Ellen M. Corbett and co-sponsored by Mark DeSaulnier and Dean Florez, would have made it illegal to pay initiative circulators on a pay-per-signature basis., The California Senate passed SB 24, but the weekend of October 10-11, 2009, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it.
Colorado 2009 ban
Oregon 2002 ban
In 2002, Oregon Ballot Measure 26 was approved by popular vote. It forbid initiative sponsors from paying petitioners on a per-signature basis. This ban on pay-per-signature was upheld in Prete v. Bradbury, a ruling of the Ninth Circuit Court. Oregon Constitutional Article IV §1b reads:
"It shall be unlawful to pay or receive money or other thing of value based on the number of signatures obtained on an initiative or referendum petition. Nothing herein prohibits payment for signature gathering which is not based, either directly or indirectly, on the number of signatures obtained."
Prete v. Bradbury
- Main article Prete v. Bradbury
Prete v. Bradbury is a lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon against Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury challenging Oregon's restrictions on paying petition circulators by the signature.
The outcome of the lawsuit was that U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken, a Clinton appointee, upheld Oregon's ban on pay-per-signature on February 11, 2004. The ban was one of the provisions of Oregon Ballot Measure 26.
- Citizens for Tax Reform v. Deters. Federal court struck down Ohio's ban on pay-per-signature.
- On Our Terms '97 PAC v. Secretary of State of Maine. Federal court struck down Maine's ban.
- Initiative & Referendum Institute v. Jaeger. Federal court upheld North Dakota's ban.
- LIMIT v. Maleng. Federal court strikes down State of Washington's ban on pay-per-signature.
- Meyer v. Grant. U.S. Supreme Court strikes down Colorado ban on paying circulators.
- Term Limits Leadership Council v. Clark
Pros and cons
Jill Stewart, a reporter at LA Weekly, referred to a bill banning pay-per-signature passed in by California Senate in 2009 (but vetoed by Gov. Schwarzenegger) as "a blatant effort by legislators, working on behalf of huge special interests including Big Pharma, Big Labor and Big Business, to stop environmental groups, anti-tax groups and others from gathering the 450,000 to 700,000 signatures required to place an initiative, referendum or recall on the statewide ballot." Stewart also used the phrase "Under the false guise of 'reform'", suggesting that the reform is a pseudo-reform.
- Alaska anti-initiative bill, January 19, 2009
- Ballot Access News, "California Legislative Hearing on Bill to Ban Paying Circulators Per Signature", July 6, 2009
- Text of SB 34
- Los Angeles Weekly, "Arnold vetoes initiative ban: Sleazy effort by California legislature to hamstring signature-gathering", October 12, 2009
- Pay Per Signatures Blog
- More lawsuit news Ballot Access News, March 1, 2004