CategoryBallot measures

Arkansas Supreme Court removes third citizen initiative from November ballot, leaving three legislative referrals for voters to decide

On September 17, the Arkansas Supreme Court removed Issue 6 from the November ballot. The referendum would have allowed voters to either repeal or uphold Act 579, which was designed to amend the definition of practice of optometry to allow optometrists to perform certain surgical procedures that were previously only performed by ophthalmologists. A yes vote on the referendum would have been a vote to uphold Act 579 while a no vote would have been a vote to repeal it.

During this cycle, the Arkansas Supreme Court removed all three citizen-initiated measures from the ballot—Issue 4, Issue 5, and Issue 6—that had been certified for the ballot. The rulings were all based on certifications filed by measure sponsors that said background checks were acquired for all signature gatherers. State law requires the certifications to state that background checks were passed by all signature gatherers.

Arkansans for Healthy Eyes led the campaign in support of a yes vote. Arkansans for Healthy Eyes supported Act 579 to allow optometrists to perform some eye surgeries. Safe Surgery Arkansas (SSA) led the campaign in support of a no vote. SSA sponsored the referendum signature petition. The group opposed allowing optometrists to perform some eye surgeries and sought to repeal Act 579. Safe Surgery Arkansas paid $661,000 to National Ballot Access, a petition circulating company, to collect signatures for the measure.

Issue 6 was removed from the ballot for the same reason that Issues 4 and 5 were removed in late August. Issue 4, sponsored by Arkansas Voters First, would have created the Citizens’ Redistricting Commission for state legislative and congressional redistricting. Arkansas Voters First paid $1.1 million to National Ballot Access, Advanced Micro Targeting, and Fieldworks LLC to collect signatures for the measure.

Issue 5, sponsored by Open Primaries Arkansas, would have (a) changed primary elections so that all candidates for an office are listed on a single primary ballot, rather than on separate partisan ballots, and (b) created a top-four ranked-choice voting system for general elections for federal congressional office, state general assembly, and statewide elected offices. Open Primaries Arkansas did not report signature gathering costs.

Under Arkansas Code § 7-9-601(b)(3), sponsors are required to certify to the secretary of state that each paid canvasser passed a state and federal criminal background check. The Arkansas Supreme Court found that proponents of the three measures failed to certify that paid signature gatherers passed background checks. The certifications submitted by petitioners stated that background checks were acquired, but did not say they were passed.

Sponsors of the referendum, Safe Surgery Arkansas, said they would pursue a new ballot measure in 2022.

Three measures remain on the November ballot in Arkansas. All three measures are constitutional amendments that were referred to the ballot by the state legislature. Issue 1 would continue a 0.5% sales tax for transportation projects; Issue 2 would change state legislative term limits; and Issue 3 would change initiative process and legislative referral requirements.

Two measures on the 2018 ballot in Arkansas were declared invalid by the state Supreme Court and votes for the measures were not counted. Similarly, in 2016, the supreme court declared two measures on the ballot to be invalid and votes were not counted.

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Finalized Nov. 3 ballot measures: election policy, marijuana, and tax trends; campaign finance records; unique measures on wolves, mushrooms, state flag design, and more

One hundred and fifteen statewide ballot measures will appear on November 3, 2020, ballots in 32 states, barring further court-ordered changes.

Together with eight pre-November ballot measures, 123 statewide measures will go before voters in 2020. This is 29% less than the average of 173 statewide measures in even-numbered years from 2010 through 2018.

Forty-three of the 2020 statewide measures were put on the ballot through citizen-initiated signature petition drives. There were an average of 59 citizen-initiated measures in each even-numbered year from 2010 through 2018. In 2016 and 2018, there were spikes in citizen initiative activity, with 76 and 68 measures respectively. There were 40 citizen-initiated measures in 2014.

From 1980 through 2014, an average of 54 citizen-initiated measures appeared on the ballot during even-numbered years. From 2008 through 2014, this average decreased to 49.

State legislatures referred 79 measures to the ballot. On average from 2010 through 2018, state legislatures referred 109 measures to the ballot.

There was one automatic referral in Iowa.

Notable topics and trends

Forty-three (37%) of the Nov. 3 measures are on the topics of election policy, marijuana policy, or taxes.

Eighteen measures in 14 states concern election policy, including campaign finance, election dates, election systems, redistricting, suffrage, and term limits.

Voters in five states will decide ballot measures changing their election systems for congressional, state legislative, and statewide offices. Alaska and Massachusetts voters will decide ranked-choice voting initiatives. Alaska’s measure would also make Alaska the first state to adopt top-four primary elections. Courts removed top-four primary and ranked-choice voting general election initiatives similar to the measure in Alaska from the ballot in Arkansas and North Dakota.

Florida voters will decide an initiative that would replace the state’s closed primary elections with top-two open primaries for state offices. Colorado voters will be the first to weigh in on the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC).

Voters in Missouri, New Jersey, and Virginia will decide redistricting measures.

Voters in Alabama, Colorado, and Florida will decide measures designed to change existing constitutional language providing the right to vote to say “only a citizen of the United States,” rather than “every citizen of the United States,” who is 18 years old or older has the right to vote.

Voters in California will decide whether to allow 17-year-olds to vote in primary and special elections if they will be 18 by the next general election. Voters will also decide whether to allow convicted felons who are on parole the ability to vote.

Voters in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota will vote on whether to legalize recreational marijuana. Voters in South Dakota and Mississippi will decide medical marijuana initiatives. South Dakota is the first state to vote on both recreational and medical marijuana measures at the same election.

Voters in 12 states will vote on 19 tax-related ballot measures. Ten of the measures address taxes on properties, three are related to income tax rates, two address tobacco taxes, one addresses business-related taxes, one addresses sales tax rates, one addresses fees and surcharges, and one is related to tax-increment financing (TIF).

Campaign finance

Committees registered to support or oppose the 124 statewide measures certified for 2020 ballots reported a combined $565.3 million in contributions and $224.9 million in expenditures.

The following five states have the most ballot measure campaign finance activity reported so far:

• California – $316.8 million in contributions

• Illinois – $80.4 million in contributions

• Florida – $28.4 million in contributions

• Colorado – $23.4 million in contributions

• Oregon – $14.1 million in contributions

The most expensive ballot measure of the year, California Proposition 22, is also the most expensive measure in California’s history. The support campaign has received record-breaking total contributions from multiple app-based driver companies, including Lyft, Uber, and Doordash.

Unique measures

Oregon could become the first state to create a program for the legal use of psilocybin mushrooms and to decriminalize all drugs.

Mississippi voters will decide on a new state flag design to replace its last flag featuring the Confederate battle flag, and Rhode Island voters will decide whether or not to remove the words “Providence Plantations” from the state’s official name. Voters in both states decided in favor of the status quo on these issues in 2001 and 2010, respectively.

Get more details and analysis in the September edition of the State Ballot Measure Monthly. The edition covers the final certifications of 2020; the measures that were removed fro the ballot since mid-August; and more analysis of trends, notable topics, and unique measures.

Subscribe to Ballotpedia’s newsletters to see upcoming analysis of the 2020 measures, including our comprehensive reports on signature petition costs, campaign finance, and ballot language readability.

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2020 ballot measures
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Glynn County, Georgia, ballot measure to abolish local police ruled unconstitutional

On September 11, a Georgia Superior Court judge ruled that the authority to abolish a local police department is held by local officials and cannot be voted on via a public referendum. The court’s decision removed the Glynn County Abolish County Police Department Measure from the November ballot. The measure would have abolished the Glynn County Police Department and transferred all existing equipment, resources, and funds to the Sheriff of Glynn County.

Senator Ligon, the bill’s sponsor, said he believed the people should decide on the state of the police department. Georgia State Representative Jeff Jones (R) opposed the measure saying, “Voters elect county commissioners to oversee many things in the county, in particular the police department. For very good reason, the constitution does not give authority over a county police department to state representatives and or state senators.”

This measure was initially put on the ballot through a vote of the Georgia State Legislature. Senate Bill 509 (SB 509) was introduced on June 15, 2020, by Senator William Ligon (R). It was approved by the Georgia State Senate on June 18, 2020, in a vote of 46-1 with six not voting and two absent. On June 23, it was approved by the Georgia House of Representatives in a vote of 152-2 with seven not voting and 19 absent.

As of September 11, Ballotpedia is tracking 19 local police-related ballot measures in 14 jurisdictions in seven states. These local ballot measures were proposed in the wake of George Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020.

Of the 19 ballot measures, seven of them are on the ballot in California and four of them are on the ballot in Pennsylvania. The most common policy addressed by the ballot measures was police oversight boards and offices and the duties and powers of these boards and offices. Ten of the ballot measures addressed police oversight. Other topics include police and criminal justice funding, staffing levels, law enforcement training, and the public disclosure of police camera footage involving deaths and serious injuries.

The following is a list of local police-related measures on the ballot for November 3, 2020:
  • Los Angeles County, California: Voters will decide a ballot measure to require that no less than 10% of the county’s General Fund be appropriated to youth, job, business, and housing programs and alternatives to incarceration.
  • Oakland, California: The Oakland City Council referred to the ballot a charter amendment that would create an Office of the Inspector General to review the police commission’s policies, as well as change the powers, duties, and staffing of the commission and police review board.
  • San Diego, California: The San Diego City Council referred a ballot measure to create a Commission on Police Practices, which would conduct investigations and subpoena witnesses and documents related to deaths resulting from police interactions and complaints made against police officers.
  • San Francisco, California: Voters will decide two ballot measures related to policing. One would remove the minimum police staffing level required (1,971 full-time police officers) from the city’s charter. The other measure would create the Sheriff’s Department Oversight Board and the Sheriff’s Department Office of Inspector General.
  • San Jose, California: The San Jose City Council referred a charter amendment to the ballot that would authorize an independent police auditor to review reports and records related to officer-involved shootings and uses of force.
  • Sonoma County, California: Voters will decide Measure P, which would make changes to the county’s Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach.
  • DuPage County, Illinois: There are two non-binding advisory votes on the ballot. One advises the county on considering law enforcement and public safety as its top budgeting priority, and the other advises the county on funding and supporting law enforcement training methods that are designed to decrease the risk of injury to officers and suspects.
  • Akron, Ohio: Voters will decide a ballot measure to require police body and dashboard camera recording that document police use of force resulting in death or serious injury to be released to the public.
  • Columbus, Ohio: The Columbus City Council referred a charter amendment to the ballot that would create a Civilian Police Review Board to investigate alleged police misconduct, subpoena testimony and evidence during an investigation, and make recommendations to the Division of Police.
  • Portland, Oregon: Voters will decide a ballot measure to establish a new police oversight board, give the board subpoena powers, and allow the board to impose disciplinary actions, including termination, on law enforcement professionals.
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Voters in Philadelphia will decide two police-related ballot measures and one other criminal justice proposal. One measure would add language to the city charter calling on the police department to “eliminate the practice of unconstitutional stop and frisk, consistent with judicial precedent.” The other police-related measure would create a Citizens Police Oversight Commission. Another measure would create an Office of the Victim Advocate to act as an advocate for crime victims and co-victims.
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: The Pittsburgh City Council referred a charter amendment to the ballot that would authorize the Independent Citizen Police Review Board to audit the police bureau and require police officers to cooperate with the board’s investigations.
  • Kyle, Texas: Voters in Kyle will decide on a charter amendment that authorizes the city council to adopt procedures and establishes a committee to review the city’s police department.
  • King County, Washington: Two police-related measures will be on the ballot. One would make the county sheriff an appointed, rather than elected, position. The second measure would give the county council the authority to define the sheriff’s duties.
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28 committees supporting and opposing Colorado’s November ballot measures have raised over $23 million and spent over $19 million

Eleven statewide ballot measures are certified to appear on the November 3 ballot in Colorado. Ballotpedia identified 28 committees supporting and opposing 10 of the measures. The 28 committees had raised $23,369,532.55 and had spent $19,235,702.73 according to reports filed on September 8 that covered information through September 2. The next reports are due on September 21.

Eight of the 11 measures on the ballot were placed on the ballot through citizen petition drives and concern topics including wolf reintroduction, abortion restrictions, citizenship requirements for voting, paid medical leave, and taxes.

The citizen-initiated measures are Amendments 76 and 77 and Propositions 113 through 118. Campaigns surrounding the citizen-initiated measures raised 89.7% of the funds ($20.97 million) and accounted for 92% of the expenditures ($17.7 million of the $19.2 million total).

Campaigns surrounding the measures spent a combined total of $7.38 million on signature gathering costs. The campaigns to place Propositions 113 and 115 on the ballot used volunteers to collect signatures and therefore did not spend money on signature gathering. Proposition 113 will determine whether or not Colorado will join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Proposition 115 would prohibit abortion after 22 weeks gestational age.

Seven citizen-initiatives were on the ballot in Colorado in November 2018, second only to California with eight. A total of $7.33 million was spent on petition drives by committees behind the citizen-initiated measures that qualified for the 2018 ballot.

The state legislature referred a state statute to the November 2020 ballot that would increase tobacco taxes and create a new e-cigarette tax to fund various health and education programs (Proposition EE). The committee supporting Proposition EE (A Brighter, Healthier Future for Colorado’s Kids) raised $2.4 million. Opponents (No on EE– A Bad Deal for Colorado) had not yet reported campaign finance activity.

The state legislature referred two constitutional amendments: Amendment B, which would repeal the Gallagher Amendment and freeze current property tax assessment rates, and Amendment C, which would amend charitable gaming requirements.

Colorado Coming Together, supporting Amendment B, raised $50. Keep Property Taxes Low, opposing Amendment B, raised $2,050.

Ballotpedia did not identify committees supporting or opposing Amendment C, which would lower the number of years an organization must have existed before obtaining a charitable gaming license from five years to three years and to allow charitable organizations to hire managers and operators of gaming activities so long as they are not paid more than the minimum wage.

In 2018, Ballotpedia tracked $1.185 billion in contributions to the ballot measure campaigns supporting and opposing the 167 certified 2018 measures and $1.16 billion in expenditures by those campaigns. Campaigns supporting and opposing the 13 statewide ballot measures on the 2018 ballot in Colorado raised $70.4 million, ranking Colorado #6 among states with the highest ballot measure campaign contributions in 2018. California was #1 with $369 million.

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Nebraska Supreme Court removes Medical Marijuana Initiative from November ballot

On September 10, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that the Medical Marijuana Initiative violated the state’s single-subject rule and ordered the secretary of state to remove it from the November ballot.

The court’s ruling came after the secretary of state received written objections to the ballot language of the initiative from several Nebraskan residents. The objectors argued that the initiative violated the state’s single-subject rule because the initiative would allow individuals with serious medical conditions to use marijuana, allow private entities to provide marijuana for medical use, and treat those 18 years or older differently than those 18 years and younger. The objectors argued that there was “no natural and necessary connection” between the provisions. The letter also argued that the initiative “creates confusion and serious doubt regarding the exact nature of the actions that a vote cast in favor of the amendment would authorize.”

On August 28, the Secretary of State Bob Evnen (R) determined the initiative was legally sufficient. He said, “The production and sale of medical cannabis has a natural and necessary connection to legalization of medical cannabis for individual use, which is the primary purpose of the Amendment.” Evnen also argued that the initiative did not need to define “serious medical condition” because the initiative required medical professionals to make that determination.

After Sec. Evnen certified the initiative for the ballot, Lancaster County Sheriff Terry Wagner filed a lawsuit against the secretary’s determination on the same grounds as the written objections. The state Supreme Court disagreed with the secretary’s determination and ruled that the initiative violated the single-subject rule. The Court said:

“As proposed, the [initiative] contains more than one subject–by our count, it contains at least eight subjects. In addition to enshrining in our constitution a right of certain persons to produce and medicinally use cannabis under subsections (1) and (2), in subsections (3) and (4), the [initiative] would enshrine a right and immunity for entities to grow and sell cannabis; and in subsections (6), (7), and (8), it would regulate the role of cannabis in at least six areas of public life. These secondary purposes are not naturally and necessarily connected to the [initiative’s] primary purpose.”

Justices Jonathan Papik and Lindsey Miller-Lerman dissented arguing the initiative did not violate the single-subject rule. In his dissenting opinion, Papik said, “All the details of the [initiative] relate to the same general subject—providing a right to individuals with serious medical conditions to use cannabis to alleviate those conditions. …  I am concerned that today’s decision has squeezed the concept of single-subject in art. III, § 2, such that the people’s right to initiative has been diminished.”

The amendment, sponsored by Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana, would have allowed adults, with the recommendation of a licensed physician or nurse practitioner, to use, possess, purchase, and produce marijuana to alleviate a serious medical condition. The initiative would have also allowed children (under 18 years of age), with the recommendation of a licensed physician or nurse practitioner and permission of a parent or legal guardian who is responsible for their healthcare decisions, to use marijuana to alleviate a serious medical condition. Parents of children who use medical marijuana would have been allowed to possess, purchase, and produce marijuana to alleviate their child’s medical condition.

Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana, the sponsors of the initiative, submitted over 182,000 unverified signatures. The secretary of state verified that 135,055 signatures were valid or approximately 74.2%. About 122,000 valid signatures were required.

Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana responded to the ruling saying, “We agree with the Supreme Court’s dissenting opinion, Secretary of State, and Revisor of Statutes that our initiative that nearly 200,000 Nebraskans signed is legally sufficient and should be on the ballot in November.”

The state Supreme Court also ruled on Thursday that a trio of gambling initiatives did not violate the state’s single-subject rule and ordered the secretary of state to place them on the November ballot. The initiatives had been withheld from the ballot by the secretary of state. The initiatives would authorize, regulate, and tax gambling at horse racetracks.

On November 3, Nebraska voters will also decide on an initiative to cap interest rates that payday lenders charge to 36 percent per year, a constitutional amendment removing language allowing slavery or involuntary servitude as criminal punishments, and a constitutional amendment that increases the repayment period for tax increment financing from 15 to 20 years for extreme blight.

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Nebraska Supreme Court places gambling initiatives on November ballot

On September 10, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that a trio of initiatives that would authorize, regulate, and tax gambling at horse racetracks did not violate the state’s single-subject rule and ordered they be placed on the November ballot.

Secretary of State Bob Evnen (R) announced on August 25 that the Constitutional Amendment to Allow Laws Authorizing Gaming at Racetracks Initiative, Authorizing Gaming at Racetracks Initiative, and the Tax on Gaming at Racetracks Initiative would not be on the November ballot because they were legally insufficient, although proponents collected the required number of verified signatures. The determination came after the secretary received objections to the initiative from three Nebraskan residents regarding the constitutionality and clarity of the ballot language. The secretary agreed with the objectors’ argument that the initiated constitutional amendment violated the single-subject rule. Sec. Evnen said, “The Constitutional Initiative effectively puts forth dual proposals: (1) authorizing expanded gambling at tribal casinos and (2) authorizing expanded gambling at racetracks by authorized operators. But the first proposal is hidden from the voters and impossible to ascertain from the text of the proposal. Putting forth dual propositions in a single proposal violates the single-subject rule as it does not permit voters to express a clear preference on dual propositions.” The secretary also said that the provision in the tax initiative that provides for property tax relief constituted logrolling because it required voters to expand gambling to obtain tax relief. Keep the Money in Nebraska, the sponsors of the initiatives, appealed the secretary’s decision to the Nebraska Supreme Court.

The Court reversed the secretary’s determination and ruled that each initiative is legally sufficient. The Court argued that the “purpose of the single-subject rule is to avoid forcing voters to vote for or against the whole package even though they would have voted differently had the propositions been submitted separately.” The Court determined since the three initiatives will be voted on separately they do not violate the single-subject rule.

  1. Initiative 429, Constitutional Amendment to Allow Laws Authorizing Gaming at Racetracks Initiative: The initiative would amend the Nebraska Constitution to allow the enactment of laws that authorize and tax gambling conducted by licensed gaming operators and held at licensed racetrack enclosures.
  2. Initiative 430, Authorizing Gaming at Racetracks Initiative: The initiative would allow games of chance by authorized operators in licensed racetrack enclosures; establish a Nebraska Gaming Commission to regulate games of chance; and exempt gaming at racetracks from rules and penalties that govern other forms of gambling.
  3. Initiative 431, Tax on Gaming at Racetracks Initiative: This initiative would enact a 20% tax on gambling revenue from games of chance operated at licensed racetracks and allocated 75% of the revenue from the tax to state funds for property tax relief and the Compulsive Gamblers Assistance Fund and 25% to the county or local jurisdictions in which the racetracks are located.

Keep the Money in Nebraska submitted over 465,000 signatures for the three petitions to the secretary of state on July 2. The campaign attempted to place the three initiatives on the ballot in 2016 but failed to collect the required number by the deadline. As of August 31, the campaign had received $3.1 million in cash and in-contributions from Ho-Chunk, Inc., an economic development corporation owned by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska.

The state Supreme Court also ruled on Thursday that the Medical Marijuana Initiative violated the state’s single-subject rule and removed it from the November ballot. The court argued that the initiative contained two constitutional rights that were not necessarily connected to the initiative’s general purpose—the right to use medical marijuana and the right to grow and sell marijuana. Of the 26 states that allow for the initiative process, 15 states have a single-subject rule.

On November 3, Nebraska voters will decide six statewide ballot measures including the gambling initiatives. The Remove Slavery as Punishment for Crime Amendment would repeal language allowing slavery or involuntary servitude as criminal punishment. The Tax Increment Financing Repayment Amendment would increase the repayment period for tax increment financing from 15 to 20 years for extreme blight. The Payday Lender Interest Rate Cap Initiative would limit the interest rate that payday lenders charge to 36 percent per year.

Between 1996 and 2018, an average of six ballot measures appeared on the ballot.  Voters approved 53% of the 73 ballot measures that appeared on ballots between those years.

The deadline to register to vote online or by mail is October 16, and the deadline to register in person is October 23. Early voting begins October 5 and ends November 2. Polls will be open from 8 am to 8 pm CST on election day.

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Maine ballots will be printed with ranked-choice voting for president after court stays order

On September 8, Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap (D) announced that general election ballots will be printed with ranked-choice voting for president after the Maine Supreme Judicial Court stayed a lower court’s decision on a veto referendum. “Because of Federal deadlines regarding providing printed ballots to military and overseas citizens abroad, we must tell the printers to begin their work today,” said Dunlap.

The Maine Republican Party is behind a veto referendum to overturn Legislative Document 1083 (LD 1083), which established ranked-choice voting for presidential primaries and general elections. Under LD 1083, Maine is slated to use ranked-choice voting for the presidential election on November 3, 2020.

On June 15, proponents of the veto referendum filed 72,512 signatures. At least 63,067 of the signatures needed to be valid. On July 15, Dunlap announced that his office found 61,334 signatures to be valid—1,733 signatures below the requirement. Dunlap later reinstated 809 signatures from the town of Turner, Maine. A successful signature drive would have suspended the law until voters decided the law’s fate, meaning ranked-choice voting would not have been used for the presidential election on November 3, 2020.

Proponents sued Dunlap in the Cumberland County Superior Court, and Judge Thomas McKeon ruled that Dunlap needed to count an additional 988 signatures.

The Maine Constitution states that a “Circulator must appear on the voting list of the city, town or plantation of the circulator’s residence as qualified to vote for Governor….” According to Judge McKeon, Dunlap was wrong to interpret this constitutional language as requiring circulators to be registered to vote while collecting signatures. Instead, circulators being registered to vote at the time of signatures submission, regardless of whether the circulators were registered while collecting signatures, was sufficient. Due to McKeon’s ruling, the use of ranked-choice voting was effectively suspended for the presidential election.

Dunlap appealed the decision to the state Supreme Judicial Court, which stayed Judge McKeon’s decision. The Supreme Judicial Court has not yet decided the merits of the case. “Today’s ruling has the effect of leaving in place the original determination of the Secretary of State that the people’s veto effort did not have sufficient signatures…,” according to the secretary’s office.

Forgoing a final ruling from the state Supreme Judicial Court, Maine will be the first state to use ranked-choice voting in a presidential election. Maine was also the first state to establish a statewide system of ranked-choice voting following the voter approval of Question 5 in 2016. In 2020, voters in Alaska and Massachusetts will vote on ballot measures to adopt ranked-choice voting.

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With funding from Uber, Lyft, and Doordash, campaign behind California Proposition 22 tops $180 million

California Proposition 22 has become one of the most expensive ballot measure contests to ever appear on a ballot in California. Based on campaign finance reports available on September 4, 2020, the campaign Yes on Proposition 22 received $181.4 million from five rideshare and app-based companies—Lyft, Uber, DoorDash, InstaCart, and Postmates.

Proposition 22 would classify app-based drivers as independent contractors and not employees or agents. The ballot measure was designed to override Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5), signed in September 2019, on the question of whether app-based drivers are employees or independent contractors.

In August 2019, DoorDash, Lyft, and Uber provided a combined $90 million to the ballot initiative campaign, which was 18 days before Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed AB 5. The ballot initiative, which became Proposition 22, was filed on October 29, 2019. Brandon Castillo, a spokesperson for the campaign supporting the initiative, stated, “We’re going to spend what it takes to win. It’s been widely reported that three of the companies already shifted $90 million, but we’re still in the early phases. The bottom line is: We’re committed to passing this.”

The campaign No on Prop 22 received $4.8 million through September 4. Two labor unions—the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and SEIU-UHW West—provided about 52% of the campaign’s total funds.

Not only is Yes on Proposition 22 the most expensive campaign Ballotpedia has tracked in California, but the combined funds between supporters and opponents—$186.2 million—makes Proposition 22 the most expensive California ballot measure contest overall.

Before Proposition 22, campaigns for four veto referendums against gaming compacts—Propositions 94, 95, 96, and 97—raised a combined total of $154,554,073 in contributions. The single most expensive ballot measure was Proposition 87, which had $150,770,683 in total contributions for and against the measure. Proposition 87 would have imposed a severance tax on oil production to fund alternative energy research and projects but was defeated.

Across the United States, the five most expensive ballot measures of 2020 are, to date, California Proposition 22 ($186.2 million), an Illinois constitutional amendment that would allow for a graduated income tax ($79.7 million), California Proposition 21 ($32.9 million), Massachusetts Question 1 ($31.3 million), and California Proposition 15 ($26.3 million).

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Ballotpedia is tracking 21 local police-related ballot measures in nine states

As of September 4, Ballotpedia is tracking 21 local police-related ballot measures in 16 jurisdictions in nine states. These local ballot measures were proposed in the wake of George Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020.

Of the 21 ballot measures, seven of them are on the ballot in California and four of them are on the ballot in Pennsylvania. The most common policy addressed by the ballot measures was police oversight boards and offices and the duties and powers of these boards and offices. Ten of the ballot measures addressed police oversight. Other topics include police and criminal justice funding, staffing levels, law enforcement training, and the public disclosure of police camera footage involving deaths and serious injuries.

The following is a list of local police-related measures on the ballot for November 3, 2020:
  • Los Angeles County, California: Voters will decide a ballot measure to require that no less than 10% of the county’s General Fund be appropriated to youth, job, business, and housing programs and alternatives to incarceration.
  • Oakland, California: The Oakland City Council referred to the ballot a charter amendment that would create an Office of the Inspector General to review the police commission’s policies, as well as change the powers, duties, and staffing of the commission and police review board.
  • San Diego, California: The San Diego City Council referred a ballot measure to create a Commission on Police Practices, which would conduct investigations and subpoena witnesses and documents related to deaths resulting from police interactions and complaints made against police officers.
  • San Francisco, California: Voters will decide two ballot measures related to policing. One would remove the minimum police staffing level required (1,971 full-time police officers) from the city’s charter. The other measure would create the Sheriff’s Department Oversight Board and the Sheriff’s Department Office of Inspector General.
  • San Jose, California: The San Jose City Council referred a charter amendment to the ballot that would authorize an independent police auditor to review reports and records related to officer-involved shootings and uses of force.
  • Sonoma County, California: Voters will decide Measure P, which would make changes to the county’s Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach.
  • Monument, Colorado: Voters will decide whether to increase the local sales tax from 3% to 3.5% to fund the Monument Police Department.
  • Glynn County, Georgia: The Georgia State Legislature referred a ballot measure to the county ballot to abolish the county police and transfer the remaining resources and funds to the sheriff’s department. The Glynn County Board of Commissioners filed a lawsuit against the Georgia Secretary of State and the State Board of Elections on August 28. The Board of Commissioners said the measure would transfer county assets through “an unlawful referendum and election process in violation of the Georgia Constitution and state election law.”
  • DuPage County, Illinois: There are two non-binding advisory votes on the ballot. One advises the county on considering law enforcement and public safety as its top budgeting priority, and the other advises the county on funding and supporting law enforcement training methods that are designed to decrease the risk of injury to officers and suspects.
  • Akron, Ohio: Voters will decide a ballot measure to require police body and dashboard camera recording that document police use of force resulting in a death or serious injury to be released to the public.
  • Columbus, Ohio: The Columbus City Council referred a charter amendment to the ballot that would create a Civilian Police Review Board to investigate alleged police misconduct, subpoena testimony and evidence during an investigations, and make recommendations to the Division of Police.
  • Portland, Oregon: Voters will decide a ballot measure to establish a new police oversight board, give the board subpoena powers, and allow the board to impose disciplinary actions, including termination, on law enforcement professionals.
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Voters in Philadelphia will decide two police-related ballot measures and one other criminal justice proposal. One measure would add language to the city charter calling on the police department to “eliminate the practice of unconstitutional stop and frisk, consistent with judicial precedent.” The other police-related measure would create a Citizens Police Oversight Commission. Another measure would create an Office of the Victim Advocate to act as an advocate for crime victims and co-victims.
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: The Pittsburgh City Council referred a charter amendment to the ballot that would authorize the Independent Citizen Police Review Board to audit the police bureau and require police officers to cooperate with the board’s investigations.
  • Kyle, Texas: Voters in Kyle will decide on a charter amendment that authorizes the city council to adopt procedures and establishes a committee to review the city’s police department.
  • King County, Washington: Two police-related measures will be on the ballot. One would make the county sheriff an appointed, rather than elected, position. The second measure would give the county council the authority to define the sheriff’s duties.
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Missouri Amendment 3 receives third ballot title from state Court of Appeals

On August 31, a panel for the Missouri Court of Appeals agreed with a Cole County Circuit Court judge that “certain aspects of the official summary statement are unfair or insufficient and require revision,” but the panel said its draft of the ballot title had “more limited revisions than those ordered by the circuit court.”

The lower court had ruled on August 17 in favor of a group of petition circulators for Clean Missouri, the campaign that sponsored Missouri Amendment 1 (2018), and rewrote the ballot title originally drafted by the state legislature. The lawsuit argued that the ballot title of Amendment 3 was misleading because it did not mention the elimination of the nonpartisan demographer, which was the office established by Amendment 1 (2018) to conduct legislative redistricting in the state. Judge Alok Ahuja, who wrote the opinion on behalf of the appellate court panel, said, “We believe that voters need to be informed that they are being asked to reconsider, and substantially modify, a measure which they only recently approved.” The attorney general’s office said the state would appeal the ruling to the Missouri Supreme Court.

The original ballot title written by the state legislature read:
“Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:
  • Ban all lobbyist gifts to legislators and their employees;
  • Reduce legislative campaign contribution limits; and
  • Create citizen-led independent bipartisan commissions to draw state legislative districts based on one person, one vote, minority voter protection, compactness, competitiveness, fairness and other criteria?”
The second title written by a Cole County Circuit Court judge read:
“Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:
  • Repeal rules for drawing state legislative districts approved by voters in November 2018 and replace them with rules proposed by the legislature;
  • Lower the campaign contribution limit for senate candidates by $100; and
  • Lower legislative gift limits from $5 to $0, with exemptions for some lobbyists?”
The third title written by the Missouri Court of Appeals reads:
“Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:
  • Ban gifts from paid lobbyists to legislators and their employees;
  • Reduce legislative campaign contribution limits;
  • Change the redistricting process voters approved in 2018 by: (i) transferring responsibility for drawing state legislative districts from the Nonpartisan State Demographer to Governor-appointed bipartisan commissions; (ii) modifying and reordering the redistricting criteria.”

Amendment 3 would return to the use of bipartisan commissions appointed by the governor for legislative redistricting and eliminate the nonpartisan state demographer, which was created by the approval of Amendment 1 (2018). The bipartisan commissions would be renamed the House Independent Bipartisan Citizens Commission and the Senate Independent Bipartisan Citizens Commission and consist of 20 members each. The amendment would also change the criteria used to draw district maps, the threshold of lobbyists’ gifts, and the campaign contribution limit for state senate campaigns.

Missouri Amendment 3 was introduced as Senate Joint Resolution 38 (SJR 38) on January 8, 2020. On February 10, the state Senate passed SJR 38 in a vote of 22-9. Of the 23 Republicans in the Senate, 22 voted in favor of SJR 38, one voted against it. All eight Democrats voted against it. On May 13, the state House passed SJR 38 in a vote of 98-56 with eight absent.

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