$118 million spent collecting signatures for 2022 ballot measures

Welcome to the Thursday, October 19, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Presenting our annual report on initiative petition signature costs
  2. Johnson, Barnes vie for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin 
  3. Oklahoma voters will elect two U.S. Senators this year

Presenting our annual report on initiative petition signature costs

Ballot initiative campaigns spent $118 million to collect signatures for 29 initiatives this year. This equals $12.70 for every signature required to place an initiative on the ballot, up from $8.09 in 2020, $6.52 in 2018, and $6.93 in 2016.

The newest version of our ballot measure signature cost report includes all of the details.

Before we take a closer look at the numbers, let’s cover why there’s a cost for petition signatures in the first place. In states that allow citizen initiatives, campaigns must collect signatures from a certain number of registered voters to qualify for the ballot. Those requirements vary by state. Campaigns spend money to collect those signatures, including on hiring signature-gathering companies, recruiting and organizing unpaid volunteers, and more.

We use two ways to measure the cost of an initiative or veto referendum petition drive:

  • Total cost: the total cost of gathering the required signatures to put an initiative on the ballot.
  • Cost per required signature (CPRS): the total cost divided by the number of signatures required to qualify the measure for the ballot.

If a campaign spends $1 million on its petition drive and the state requires 100,000 valid signatures, the CPRS is $10.00. In other words, the campaign spent $10.00 per required signature to qualify the initiative for the ballot.

This new analysis examined campaigns for 29 initiatives in 12 states. While campaigns successfully collected signatures for 30 initiatives, signature cost data was unavailable for South Dakota Amendment D and we excluded it from this analysis.

  • The number of citizen initiatives that qualified for the even-numbered year ballot decreased 61% from 2016 to 2022, with 76 initiatives appearing on the ballot in 2016 and 30 initiatives appearing on the ballot this year. Despite fewer initiatives appearing on the ballot each year, the cumulative cost of signature gathering has increased each year.
  • The average total petition drive cost this year was $4.08 million, an increase of 297% compared to 2016, when the average total petition drive cost was $1.03 million. In 2020, the average total petition cost was $2.06 million. In 2018, the average total cost was $1.13 million. 
  • Arkansas had the highest average CPRS at $25.28. That is followed by Missouri ($21.33), Michigan ($20.47), and California ($16.18). One initiative is on the ballot in Arkansas and Missouri, and two initiatives are on the ballot in Michigan. In California, six initiatives are on the ballot.  
  • Massachusetts had the lowest average CPRS at $4.83. That is followed by Oregon ($5.14), North Dakota ($9.61), and Colorado ($9.84). Three initiatives are on the ballot in Massachusetts, two initiatives are on the ballot in Oregon and North Dakota, and six initiatives are on the ballot in Colorado. 
  • ​​Arizona Proposition 209 had the highest CPRS. Arizonans Fed Up with Failing Healthcare, the sponsors of the measure, spent $6,045.788.96 to collect the required 237,645 signatures. This cost $25.44 per signature. 
  • Abortion-related measures had the highest average CPRS (though there was only one in that category), followed by measures related to tobacco, drug crime policy, and healthcare. 

You can learn a lot more information about and analysis of the costs associated with collecting initiative signatures, including the most-used petition companies, in the report at the link below.

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Johnson, Barnes vie for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin 

Today in our previews of 2022 battleground elections: the race for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin. 

Incumbent U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R), Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes (D), and write-in candidate Scott Aubart (American Independent Party) are running.

Wisconsin is one of two states holding a U.S. Senate election in 2022 with a Republican incumbent that President Joe Biden (D) carried in the 2020 presidential election. Wisconsin is also one of six states with one Democratic and one Republican U.S. Senator.

Johnson was first elected in 2010, defeating then-incumbent Sen. Russ Feingold (D), 52% to 47%. Johnson won re-election in 2016 in a rematch with Feingold, 50% to 47%. Before his election to the Senate, Johnson was the chief executive officer for a specialty plastics company and an accountant at Jostens. Johnson says his campaign “is focused on growing our economy and creating good jobs and economic opportunity for all.”

Barnes served in the Wisconsin Assembly from 2013 to 2017 and was elected Lieutenant Governor in 2018. Before his time in the Legislature, Barnes worked for the city of Milwaukee and as a community organizer for the Milwaukee Inner-City Congregations Allied for Hope. Barnes completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. In his survey responses, Barnes listed the following as one of his three key messages: “In the Senate, I will fight to expand opportunities for the middle class. That starts with lowering costs for working families by bringing manufacturing back to Wisconsin to create thousands of good-paying jobs and address our supply chain issues.” You can read the rest of his responses here

The two most recent presidential elections in Wisconsin were both decided by less than one percentage point. In the 2020 election, President Joe Biden (D) won the state over then-incumbent President Donald Trump (R), 49.5% to 48.8%. In the 2016 election, Trump carried Wisconsin with 47.2% of the vote to Hillary Clinton’s (D) 46.5%. 

Thirty-five of 100 seats are up for election, including one special election. Democrats have an effective majority, with the chamber split 50-50 and Vice President Kamala Harris (D) having the tie-breaking vote. Democrats hold 14 seats and Republicans hold 21 seats up for election in 2022.

Learn more about Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate election at the link below. 

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Oklahoma voters will elect two U.S. Senators this year

Today is the 38th day of our 50 States in 50 Days series, and we’re featuring Oklahoma, the Sooner State.

Week One: Pennsylvania, Indiana, South Dakota, Nebraska, North Dakota
Week Two: California, Georgia, Texas, Montana
Week Three: North Carolina, Virginia, New Mexico, Illinois, Idaho
Week Four: Kentucky, Michigan, Arkansas, Minnesota, West Virginia
Week Five: Vermont, Nevada, Wyoming, Arizona, Ohio
Week Six: South Carolina, Iowa, Kansas, Oregon, Tennessee
Week Seven: Colorado, New Jersey, Washington, Alabama, Utah
Week Eight: Mississippi, Maryland, Rhode Island 

On the ballot in Oklahoma

Oklahoma voters will elect two U.S. Senators, one in a regularly scheduled election and one in a special election. Voters will also elect five U.S. Representatives. 

At the state executive level, voters will elect a governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, treasurer, auditor, superintendent of public instruction, corporate commissioner, insurance commissioner, and labor commissioner. 

Twenty-four seats in the state Senate and all 101 seats in the state House are up for election.

Additionally, voters will decide elections for two state courts. Four judges on the Oklahoma Supreme Court and five judges on the Oklahoma intermediate appellate court are standing for retention election.

Redistricting highlights

Oklahoma was apportioned five seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, no change from its seats after the 2010 census.

Congressional and state legislative elections will take place under new district lines following the census. Our side-by-side map comparison tool allows you to immediately see what redistricting looks like in your state. Here are the congressional maps in effect before and after the 2020 redistricting cycle in Oklahoma:   

To use our tool to view Oklahoma’s state legislative maps in effect before and after the 2020 redistricting cycle, visit our Oklahoma redistricting page

Partisan balance

  • Both of Oklahoma’s U.S. Senators—Jim Inhofe and James Lankford—are Republicans.
  • All five of Oklahoma’s U.S. Representatives are Republicans. 
  • Republicans hold a 39-9 majority in the state Senate and an 82-18 majority in the state House. Because the governor is a Republican, Oklahoma is one of 23 Republican trifectas. Oklahoma has had a Republican trifecta since 2011.
  • Oklahoma’s attorney general and secretary of state are also Republicans, making the state one of 23 with a Republican triplex.

Seats contested by only one major party

In 2022, 89 state legislative seats in Oklahoma, or 71% of all seats up for election, do not have major party competition. When a candidate from only one of either the Democratic or Republican parties runs for a state legislative seat, the seat is all but guaranteed to be won by that party.

Democrats are running in 40% of all state legislative races. Seventy-five state legislative seats (60% of all state legislative seats) do not feature a Democratic candidate and are likely to be won by a Republican.

Republicans are running in 89% of all state legislative races. Fourteen seats (11% of all state legislative seats) do not feature a Republican candidate and are likely to be won by a Democrat.

Key races

  • U.S. Senate (regular): Incumbent U.S. Sen. James Lankford (R), Madison Horn (D), Kenneth Blevins (L), and Michael Delaney (Independent) are running. Lankford was first elected in 2014. Horn, Blevins, and Delaney completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. Click here to read those responses. 
  • U.S. Senate (special): U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R), Kendra Horn (D), Robert Murphy (L), and Ray Woods (Independent) are running in the general election to complete Inhofe’s term after he resigns on Jan. 3, 2023. Inhofe was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1994. 
  • Governor of Oklahoma: Incumbent Kevin Stitt (R), Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister (D), Natalie Bruno (L), and Ervin Yen (Independent) are running. Stitt was first elected in 2018. Hofmeister, who was previously registered as a Republican before she announced her gubernatorial campaign, was elected superintendent of public instruction in 2014. 


  • On Election Day, polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central Time.
  • Oklahoma requires voters to present identification while voting. Valid forms of identification include government-issued photo IDs and county election board voter identification cards (which do not include photographs). Voters can present a document issued by the United States government, the State of Oklahoma, or a federally recognized tribal government. The document must include the following information: Name, photograph, and expiration date that is after the date of the election.
  • Early voting in Oklahoma is available to all voters. Early voting begins on Nov. 2 and ends on Nov. 5.
  • The voter registration deadline in Oklahoma is Oct. 14. Registration can be done in person, or by mail. 
  • All voters are eligible to vote absentee in Oklahoma. There are no special eligibility requirements for voting absentee. The deadline for requesting a ballot by mail is Oct. 24. The deadline for returning a voted ballot by mail is Nov. 8. 

Want to learn more about the elections you’ll be voting in this year? Click here to use our Sample Ballot Lookup tool!

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