A look at Arizona’s 459 ballot measures since statehood

Since 1911, there have been 459 state ballot measures in Arizona. Voters approved 237 (51.63%) and defeated 222 (48.37%). Ballotpedia has a complete dataset of state ballot measures for Arizona, which became a state in 1912.

The initiative and referendum were included in the state’s constitution, ratified in 1911, two months before statehood. Between 1911 and 2022:

  • 211 ballot measures were citizen-initiated in Arizona; that’s 45.97% of the total. Voters approved 97 (45.97%) and defeated 114 (54.03%).
  • 228 ballot measures were from the Arizona State Legislature; that’s 49.67% of the total. Voters approved 136 (59.65%) and defeated 92 (40.35%).
  • There were 20 additional measures, two of which were constitution ratification questions, and 18 of which were commission-referred ballot measures.

The ballot measure that received the greatest percentage of the vote was the ratification question for the Arizona Constitution on Dec. 12, 1911. The vote was 88.79% to 11.21%. This was the second ratification question in Arizona. On February 9, 1911, voters approved an earlier version. However, President William Howard Taft vetoed legislation making Arizona a state due, in part, to that constitution’s provision allowing for the recall of judges. The revised version did not include the recall provision. In 1912, the following year, voters passed a ballot measure allowing for the recall of public officials

The ballot measure to receive the smallest percentage of the vote was Arizona Measure Nos. 308-309, a ballot initiative that would have provided for a citizen-initiated process for creating new counties. According to the Tucson Citizen, the initiative was prompted, in part, due to interest among some residents of Mesa, Arizona, in leaving Maricopa County. Voters rejected the initiative 12.21% to 87.79%.

Here are some other examples of ballot measures from Arizona’s previous decades:

  • Arizona Proposition 200 was on the general election ballot in 2006. The ballot initiative would have awarded a $1 million prize to a person who voted during the election cycle. Mark Osterloh, the man behind the initiative, said the prize was meant to boost turnout. Voters rejected the initiative 33.38% to 66.62%.
  • Arizona Proposition 100 was on the general election ballot in 1980. The constitutional amendment enacted a resign-to-run law. Under Proposition 100, incumbents need to resign from their positions to run for a different salaried local, state, or federal office except during the final year of their term. Voters approved the amendment 69.11% to 30.89%.
  • Arizona Measure Nos. 312-313 was on the general election ballot in 1914. The ballot initiative prohibited employers from blacklisting individuals who joined or had an active interest in a labor organization or union. Voters approved the initiative 51.07% to 48.93%.

The decade with the most ballot measures in Arizona was 2000-2009 with 62. The decade with the least ballot measures was 1930-1939 with 26. There have been 12 ballot measures for the 2020s in Arizona. An additional four have been certified for 2024, and more could be added via the initiative process or during this year’s legislative session.