Voters in four states decided five measures concerning direct democracy Nov. 3

Voters in Florida and North Dakota rejected measures that would have required approval at two consecutive elections for constitutional amendments to be ratified.

Florida Amendment 4 was designed to require constitutional amendments to be approved by voters at two successive general elections to become effective. Going into the election, in Florida, if voters approve an amendment at one general election, it becomes part of the constitution. In Florida, constitutional amendments require a supermajority vote to become effective. This requirement was added to the constitution in 2006. The supermajority requirement would have applied to both elections if Amendment 4 was approved. The measure was rejected by a vote of 47.5% in favor to 52.5% against.

North Dakota Constitutional Measure 2 would have required initiated constitutional amendments passed by voters to be submitted to the legislature for approval. If the legislature did not approve the amendment, Measure 2 would have required amendments to be placed on the ballot again at the next statewide election to become effective if approved by the voters a second time. Measure 2 was rejected by a vote of 38% in favor to 62% against.

Nevada is the only state where initiated constitutional amendments must be approved at two consecutive elections. This does not apply to legislatively referred constitutional amendments, which must be approved twice by the legislature (with a majority vote) but only once by the state’s voters. Since the pass-it-twice requirement was created in 1962, there have been 14 citizen-initiated constitutional amendments that passed at the first election and appeared on the ballot again at the next election. Of the 14 measures, 12 were passed at their second elections (85.7%) and two failed (14.3%).

A legislatively referred constitutional amendment on the ballot in Arkansas would have changed many aspects of the state’s initiative process including:

  1. increasing the signature distribution requirement,
  2. shortening the signature deadline, and
  3. eliminating the current opportunity proponents have to collect additional signatures if they fall short.

The amendment would also have changed the size of the vote required of the state legislature to refer constitutional amendments to voters from a simple majority to a three-fifths (60%) supermajority vote requirement. The measure was defeated by a vote of 44% in favor to 56% against.

Two direct democracy measures on the ballot in Montana that were referred by the state legislature were approved. They did not change the state’s initiative distribution requirements but rather amended the state constitution’s language to match the distribution requirements that were already enforced.

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