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Ballot Law Update: 2011 Year in Review

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By Tyler Millhouse

In 2011, 254 laws were proposed in 41 states affecting the initiative and referendum process, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. For comparison, a total of 258 law were proposed in 40 states during 2010.[1]

The Citizens in Charge Foundation (CICF), a non-profit that promotes initiative and referendum rights, identifies proposed laws which either ease or tighten restrictions on ballot initiatives. In 2011, CICF identified 61 laws that make getting a measure on the ballot more difficult. Of these 61, seven passed. CICF also identified 44 laws that make the process easier. Of these 44, four passed.[2]

Overall, 2011 proved to be an exciting year for ballot measure law with many significant legal developments and proposed laws. Notably, lawmakers proposed 37 laws in 16 states to institute processes for recalling government officials. In 2010, only 27 proposals in 11 states were forwarded. In addition, lawmakers proposed 35 laws in 13 states to establish an initiative and referendum process--almost equal to 2010 levels. Of this year's many proposals to expand I&R rights, some have been carried over to 2012, but none were approved. 24 states currently allow residents to place measures on the ballot via initiative petition. For specific details on major legal developments this year, see our 2011 Year in Review below.

The Ballot Law Update is released on the last Wednesday of each month. The first update for 2012 will be released on January 25, 2012. Stay tuned to the Tuesday Count for weekly ballot law news.

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  1. NCSLnet, "Initiative & Referendum Legislation," accessed December 28, 2011
  2. This information is based on the final edition (September 14, 2011) of the CICF "Afternoon I&R Legislation Update"