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South Dakota

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Votes cast for governor change signature requirements in 12 states

By Leslie Graves

Of the 24 states that allow ballot initiatives, 15 use the vote cast for governor in the most recent election to determine the number of signatures required on initiative petitions. One state, Maryland, that allows only the veto referendum process, also calculates the number of required signatures based on votes cast for the office of Governor of Maryland.

Of the 16 total states where signature requirements are based on the vote cast for governor, 12 held gubernatorial elections in 2010 and therefore, their signature requirements for initiated measures in 2012, and 2014 have now changed. The change also applies to 2011 and 2013 statewide ballots in Maine and Ohio, which are two of the three states that allow citizen-initiated ballot measure elections in odd-numbered years. (The third such state, Washington, did not have a gubernatorial election in 2010.)

The 12 states where the signature requirements have now changed based on the number of votes cast for governor in the 2010 elections are:

In 10 of the 12 states, the signature requirement increased because more votes were cast for governor in 2010 than in 2006. However, in two states, Michigan and South Dakota, fewer votes were cast, so in those two states, petition advocates won't need to collect quite as many signatures for the next four years as they were required to collect in the previous four-year period. In both states, qualifying a constitutional amendment requires signatures equal to 10% of the vote cast for governor in the most recent election.

State Votes cast in 2010 10% Votes cast in 2006 10% -
Michigan 3,226,088 322,609 3,796,449 379,645 -57,306
South Dakota 317,083 31,709 335,527 33,553 -1,844
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