Welcome to the Thursday November 2, 2023, Brew.
By: Juan Garcia de Paredes
Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
- 2023 ballot measure qualification costs higher than the average for the previous five odd-year cycles
- Seventy-three races where candidates share the same last names
- Ballotpedia previews November elections in the latest episode of On the Ballot
2023 ballot measure qualification costs higher than the average for the previous five odd-year cycles
We’re less than a week away from Nov. 7, when voters in Maine and Ohio will decide six citizen initiatives. Ballotpedia’s annual report exploring the costs campaigns spend to get measures on the ballot found that 2023 ballot measure qualification costs were higher than the average for the previous five odd-year cycles.
Before we dive into the numbers, let’s go over some basics. Initiative campaigns spend money to collect signatures. They typically hire signature-gathering companies, use unpaid volunteers, or use a mix of both. States have different initiative signature requirements and population sizes, resulting in different costs for signature drives.
Ballotpedia uses two methods to measure the cost of a citizen initiative petition drive:
- Total cost: the total money spent on 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.
CPRS allows for comparisons of signature costs within and between states. If a campaign spends $1 million on its petition drive and the state’s signature requirement is 100,000, the CPRS is $10.00.
This year, campaigns spent an aggregate of $12.95 million on signature drives for the seven citizen initiatives that were certified for the ballot. That’s higher than the 2013-2023 odd-year average of $5.5 million. However, the seven initiatives this year were also more than the odd-year average of four in that period.
This year’s seven ballot measures include the six initiatives on the Nov. 7 ballot in Maine and Ohio, as well as Oklahoma State Question 820, which voters decided back in March.
The average signature drive cost this year was $1.85 million, higher than any other odd-year since 2013 and higher than the 2013-2023 odd-year average of $1.18 million. The costs this year ranged from $75,341 for Oklahoma State Question 820 to $6.65 million for Ohio Issue 1.
The average cost-per-required signature (CPRS) in 2023 was $9.38, higher than the 2013-2021 odd-year average of $8.13. The year with the highest CPRS for citizen initiatives between 2013 and 2023 was 2017, when the cost-per-required signature was $15.40. The year with the lowest CPRS was 2019, with $2.69.
For comparison, in even years from 2012 to 2022, the average CPRS was $6.78. The even year with the highest CPRS in that time period was 2022, at $12.97, and the year with the lowest was 2014, at $3.22.
Most of the signature-gathering costs this year were in Ohio, where proponents of Issue 1 and Issue 2 paid a combined $10.7 million to Advanced Micro Targeting to collect signatures.
Ohio Issue 1, an initiative to establish a constitutional right to abortion, had the most expensive signature drive. A total of $6.65 million was spent to collect the 413,488 valid signatures required to put this measure before voters, resulting in a total cost per required signature (CPRS) of $16.08.
Ohio Issue 2, a marijuana legalization initiative, had the highest CPRS at $16.28. A total of $4.1 million was spent collecting the 249,092 valid signatures required to put this measure before voters, resulting in a total cost per required signature (CPRS) of $16.28.
A total of 343 citizen-initiated measures have qualified for the ballot since 2012. Even-years tend to see a much higher number of measures qualify for the ballot than odd years. Between 2012 and 2023, an average of 53 measures qualified for the ballot in even years, while an average of 4.2 qualified for the ballot in odd years.
Seventy-three races where candidates share the same last names
Among the elections Ballotpedia is covering in 2023, 73 are between 148 candidates who share last names with one or more of their opponents. Pennsylvania had the most such races (27), followed by Wisconsin (19) and Oklahoma (7).
North Carolina and Wisconsin each had races where three candidates shared the same last name.
This data includes the elections within Ballotpedia’s regular coverage scope and our comprehensive coverage of school board elections taking place in 10 states: Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. Data for previous years does not include the comprehensive school board election coverage.
In many cases, the races where candidates shared a surname reflect how common that surname is. “Brown,” for example, was the fourth most common surname in the U.S. according to the 2010 census. It was also the most common shared last name among candidates in this analysis, appearing in four races. In other cases, candidates who shared a last name were related to each other.
In 2022, Ballotpedia covered 22 races in 13 states and territories between 45 candidates that shared last names with one or more of their opponents. New Hampshire had the most races with six, and the U.S. Virgin Islands had the only race with three candidates who shared the same last name.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Smith was the most common surname in the 2010 census, with 2.44 million people. Ten other surnames appeared more than a million times in the 2010 census. In order, they were: Johnson (1.93 million), Williams (1.63 million), Brown (1.44 million), Jones (1.43 million), Garcia (1.17 million), Miller (1.16 million), Davis (1.12 million), Rodriguez (1.09 million), Martinez (1.06 million), and Hernandez (1.04 million).
Ballotpedia previews November elections in the latest episode of On the Ballot
It’s hard to believe, but this week’s episode of On the Ballot is our last one before the Nov. 7 elections (!). To bring our listeners up to date with everything they need to know before Election Day, host Victoria Rose brought some of the podcast’s regular guests for a roundtable discussion to preview next week’s elections.
In the episode, Ballotpedia staff writers Doug Kronaizl and Joe Greaney, as well Managing Editor Cory Eucalitto, dive into some of the key 15 races we’re watching this month. We selected these races based on past election results, unique election-specific circumstances, and election race ratings.
Among the races the group discusses in the episode are:
- Gubernatorial elections in Kentucky and Mississippi
- U.S. House special elections in Rhode Island and Utah
- State legislative elections in Virginia
- The mayoral race in Wichita, Kansas
- The Nov. 7 election for one seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court
- School board elections in two Pennsylvania school districts—Pennridge School District and Central Bucks School District—and Mentor Exempted Village School District, in Ohio
If you want to read more about these races and the other top elections we’re watching next week, click here. To listen to our full episode, click the link below.
And remember! New episodes of On the Ballot come out Thursday afternoons, so if you’re reading this on the morning of Nov. 2, you’ve still got time to subscribe to On the Ballot on your favorite podcast app before this week’s episode comes out!