Edited by Al Ortiz
The Tuesday Count took a step back this past week, leaving the total at 97 ballot measures in 31 states. However, there was still plenty of certification movement below the surface. The reason: one measure was added in Alabama while two were taken off the ballot in Ohio and Missouri.
The Alabama Legislature referred a measure related to Medicaid in the state. The amendment, slated for a September 18 special election, would authorize the transfer of $145.8 million from an oil and gas trust fund to the General Fund for the state Medicaid budget.
Meanwhile, the de-certification that occurred in Ohio is not without controversy. An election law veto referendum was taken off of the ballot this past week, much to the dismay of initiative organizers.
The veto referendum would have repealed an elections law that was passed in the state of Ohio in 2011. The targeted election law would have moved future primary election dates from March to May, among other provisions.
Additionally, the legislation would have shortened the period of mail-in absentee voting from 35 days before the election to 21. The number of days residents can vote early would be limited to 14 days before the election. Currently, the number of days residents can vote early is also 35 days.
The veto referendum to take down the legislation made it onto the ballot after initiative sponsors of the repeal gathered 231,184 valid signatures from registered voters by the deadline.
However, it was reported on February 1, 2012 that a legislative proposal was introduced in 2012 session to repeal the new election law, therefore aiming to do the same as the citizen-initiated veto referendum. This, according to reports, was done to avoid a referendum election that could cost the state money.
The bill that was considered in the state legislature was Senate Bill 295. According to reports, the bill was to be voted on by the Senate Oversight and Reform Committee in order to have it considered by the full chamber.
Some critics stated that the proposal violated the rights of referendum by citizens and could discourage future referendum efforts. Norman Robbins, a voting rights advocate, stated, “This is an outright violation of Ohio citizen’s rights to ask for a referendum, and would discourage any future campaigns on other issues because the ruling majority could simply repeal the referendum issue before the election.”
After final legislation approval earlier this month, on May 15, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed Senate Bill 295, therefore overturning the law and foregoing placing a referendum on the ballot in November.
In Missouri, the voter identification amendment met its fate when state legislature failed to replace the ballot language that would appear before voters in the fall. This lead to the proposal’s removal from the ballot. The proposed ballot title for the amendment was previously found by the Missouri Supreme Court to be misleading and that revisions were required to keep it in front of voters in November.
|Petition drive deadlines|
|Next up: Michigan
This leaves the state with two statewide questions on the ballot.
Rumblings in Maine
As stated previously, the Tuesday Count’s total decreased by one this past week. That could change soon though, as five bond measures currently on the Maine Governor‘s desk could cause the ballot measure total to shoot up quickly.
The Maine Legislature passed the measures during this month, sending them to the governor for either approval for the ballot or veto. The governor is expected to final final decisions on the proposals this coming week.
The measures include:
- A measure to allow for a $51 million transportation bond, most of it to pay for road and bridge repairs in the state.
- Another to allow for a $20 million research and development grant for science and technology in the state.
- One to allow for an $11 million bond for higher education in order to expand the state’s community college system.
- Two measures, both dealing with state water and sewer projects.
- “Death with Dignity” measure meets a legal challenge: On May 17, a lawsuit was filed in the Massachusetts Supreme Court against the controversial ballot initiative that would allow for a terminally ill patient to be given lethal drugs with consent. The lawsuit was filed by the disability rights group Second Thoughts.
- A year delay could plague Alaska Coastal Management program if approved: During the week of May 17, it was reported that Alaska Governor Sean Parnell vetoed funding for a new Coastal Management program, if the initiative is approved by voters. According to reports, that means that if the initiative is enacted, it will take about a year to start the program up.
- Group begins submitting signatures for Oregon Initiative 24: On Friday, May 18, Citizens for Sensible Law Enforcement submitted 10,000 signatures for the Oregon Marijuana Legalization Amendment to the Oregon Secretary of State as part of a preliminary check. Once the signatures are submitted, 122,000 according to supporters, by May 25, the secretary of state’s office will begin it’s review. Based on the findings of this preliminary check, supporters will then have until the July 6 deadline to collect names to make up for any invalid signatures.
|Proposals with recent activity|
In March 2011, the village board decided to cut bus services in the village as they did not have the money in the budget. Village residents who were upset with the decision then sought begin a citizen initiative petition to reverse the decision.
The first issue arose when residents obtained the required amount of signatures only to find that the village board did not validate them to place the issue on the ballot. Residents took the issue up with a district judge who ruled that the issue be placed on the June 5 ballot. Though the measure has been placed on the ballot, the board still believes the petition is illegal and should not be voted on. Attorneys for the village have filed a motion to stop the previous decision and take the measure off of the ballot. The board states that legislation cannot overturn their decision to cut the village bus services.
Those in favor of bus services note that many people depend on the buses to get around, but opponents note that there are not enough users of the bus services to compliment the costs of running them. The suggestion to move the measure to November has been suggested, but the issue is still pending.
|A 2012 statewide measure was removed from the ballot in what state listed?Click here to find out!|
BALLOT LAW UPDATE
Maryland signature ruling: On May 21, Maryland’s highest court issued a unanimous ruling affirming tough requirements for petition signatures. The court ruled that petition signatures must exactly match the name on voter registration records. (e.g., A person registered as “Johnathan Doe” may not sign as “John Doe.”) As a consequence, over half of the signatures submitted by the Green and Libertarian parties were rejected. The court noted that it was not ruling on the constitutionality of the statute, only its interpretation. Although parties may still be able to qualify despite the ruling, petitions that require many more signatures, like referendum petitions, may be significantly harder to complete.
- The ruling can be found here.
Michigan referendum ruling appeal: On April 26, the Michigan Board of Canvassers deadlocked and failed to certify a statewide referendum due to the size of fonts used on the petition form. On May 17, the proponents of the referendum appeared in a state Court of Appeals to defend the petition. Proponents argue that the font size is immaterial and that the Board’s vote was politically motivated. Opponents of the referendum argue that the statute is clear and that supporters were entitled to a state review of their forms prior to circulation but did not take it.