CategoryBallot measures

Voter photo ID and minimum wage initiatives make the ballot in Nebraska

On Sept. 6, the Nebraska secretary of state announced that two ballot initiatives had qualified for the November ballot. Voters will decide on a constitutional amendment to require photo ID to vote and a new law that would incrementally increase the state’s minimum wage from $9 to $15 by 2026 and annually adjust for the cost of living thereafter.

Citizens for Voter ID is sponsoring the photo ID amendment. State Sen. Julie Slama (R), Republican National Committeewoman Lydia Brasch, and former state senator and former Douglas County Republican Chairwoman Nancy McCabe formed the PAC and filed the initiative. The initiative has also received support from Gov. Pete Ricketts (R), who said, “Showing ID when they go to vote, it’s one of the ways we can strengthen the integrity of our elections. It’s a great opportunity for the second house, the people of Nebraska, to be able to weigh in a way where the Legislature has not been able to get it passed.”

The measure is opposed by the League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha, Nebraska NAACP, Civic Nebraska, and Black Votes Matter. Civic Nebraska said, “The only thing we are certain these measures would do is to make it harder for eligible Nebraskans — especially young, low-income, rural, black and brown, and senior Nebraskans — to freely and fairly cast a ballot.”

To qualify an initiated constitutional amendment, sponsors needed to submit 123,966 valid signatures with signatures from 5% of the registered voters in each of two-fifths (38) of Nebraska’s 93 counties. The secretary of state reported that the sponsors submitted 136,458 valid signatures and met the state’s distribution requirement in 76 of the 93 counties.

Raise the Wage Nebraska is sponsoring the minimum wage initiative. It’s received support from ACLU of Nebraska, NAACP Lincoln Branch, Nebraska State AFL-CIO, and Nebraska Appleseed. Ken Smith, the economic justice director at Nebraska Appleseed, said, “Workers in low-wage jobs and their families benefit the most from these income increases, reducing poverty and income inequality. Nebraskans should not have to choose between paying their rent and buying groceries. We all want to be able to provide for our families and raising the minimum wage is an important step toward making that a reality for many underpaid Nebraskans.”

The Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) oppose the measure. Gov. Ricketts said the initiative would cost jobs and close businesses in rural communities. Nebraska Chamber of Commerce President Bryan Slone said, “The NE Chamber has opposed creating a patchwork quilt of state minimum wage rules in the 50 states, and supports a uniform federal standard.”

To qualify an initiated state law, sponsors needed to submit 86,776 valid signatures with signatures from 5% of the registered voters in each of two-fifths (38) of Nebraska’s 93 counties. The secretary of state reported that the sponsors submitted 97,245 valid signatures and met the state’s distribution requirement in 44 of the 93 counties.

In November, Nebraska voters will also be deciding on a legislatively referred constitutional amendment that would authorize local governments to develop commercial air travel at local airports.

The certified initiatives were two of 16 filed for the 2022 ballot. Between 2010 and 2020, nearly seven ballot initiatives were filed on average with about one initiative making the ballot each cycle.

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Arizona campaign finance initiative certified for the November ballot

This November, Arizonans will decide on a ballot initiative that would require donors to political campaigns to disclose the original source of the money, if the donation goes above a certain threshold. There are ten statewide ballot measures on the Arizona ballot.

The campaign finance initiative, if approved by voters, would require that anyone making independent expenditures of more than $50,000 on a statewide campaign or $25,000 on a local campaign disclose the names of the money’s original sources. The original source would be defined as the person or business who earned the money that was contributed, either through personal funds, business income, or any other form of income.

Certification of the initiative followed a legal challenge before the Arizona Supreme Court. The legal challenge dealt with the affidavit requirements of signature gatherers, as well as whether or not the petitioner’s registration must include the full address, including the unit number of an apartment or hotel. On Aug. 25, the Arizona Supreme Court rejected the arguments cited in the lawsuit.

Two other Arizona citizen initiatives were also subject to legal challenges. While one initiative to limit interest rates on debt from healthcare services was certified for the ballot last week, an elections and voting policies initiative was removed from the ballot.

To qualify for the ballot, proponents needed to collect at least 237,645 valid signatures. Signatures were verified through a random sampling process. On July 7, the Voter’s Right to Know campaign submitted 393,490 signatures. On Aug. 26, the secretary of state found that a projected 285,144 signatures were valid after county review.

There are nine other certified measures on the ballot in Arizona. They are:

  • Proposition 308 would allow in-state tuition for certain non-citizen residents
  • Proposition 309 would require date of birth and voter identification number for mail-in ballots and eliminate the two-document alternative to photo ID for in-person voting
  • Proposition 310 would create a sales tax to fund Arizona’s fire districts
  • Proposition 128 would allow the legislature to amend or repeal voter-approved ballot measures that contain provisions ruled unconstitutional or invalid by the state or federal supreme court
  • Proposition 129 would require citizen-initiated ballot measures to embrace a single subject
  • Proposition 130 would allow the legislature to set certain property tax exemption amounts and qualifications rather than determining details in the constitution
  • Proposition 131 would create the office of lieutenant governor
  • Proposition 132 would require a three-fifths supermajority vote to pass ballot initiatives and legislatively referred amendments that would approve taxes
  • An initiative to limit interest rates for debt from healthcare services and increase the value of certain property and earnings exempt from debt collections processes

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Initiative to limit interest rates on debt from healthcare services certified for Arizona ballot

Arizonans will decide on a ballot initiative designed to limit interest rates on debt from healthcare services. The proposal is the first initiative certified for the ballot in Arizona for November and the first of three initiatives with signatures under review to be certified. There are also eight legislative referrals on the ballot in Arizona.

Certification of the ballot initiative came after legal challenges were rejected by a judge. On August 17, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Frank Moskowitz rejected a legal challenge to the measure saying that paid petition circulators were improperly registered with the secretary of state’s office.

If approved by voters, the measure would set limits on interest rates for debt accumulated from receiving healthcare services equal to either the weekly average one-year constant maturity treasury yield or 3%, whichever is less. It would increase the amount of homestead exempt from debt collection from $150,000 to $400,000. It would also increase the amount of value of household furnishings, motor vehicles, bank account funds, and disposable earnings exempt from debt collection processes.

In order to qualify for the ballot, signature petitioners needed to collect at least 237,645 valid signatures. Signatures were verified through a random sampling process. On July 7, the Arizonans Fed Up with Failing Healthcare campaign submitted 472,296 signatures to the secretary of state. Out of these signatures, 333,958 signatures are projected to be valid.

Currently, there are eight other certified measures on the ballot in Arizona. They are:

  1. Proposition 308, which would allow in-state tuition for certain non-citizen residents
  2. Proposition 309, which would require date of birth and voter identification number for mail-in ballots and eliminate the two-document alternative to photo ID for in-person voting
  3. Proposition 310, which would create a sales tax to fund Arizona’s fire districts
  4. Proposition 182, which would allow the legislature to amend or repeal voter-approved ballot measures that contain provisions ruled unconstitutional or invalid by the state or federal supreme court
  5. Proposition 129, which would require citizen-initiated ballot measures to embrace a single subject
  6. Proposition 130, which would allow the legislature to set certain property tax exemption amounts and qualifications rather than determining details in the constitution
  7. Proposition 131, which would create the office of lieutenant governor
  8. Proposition 132, which would require a three-fifths supermajority vote to pass ballot initiatives and legislatively referred amendments that would approve taxes

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Signatures submitted for education scholarship tax credit initiative in Michigan

The Let MI Kids Learn campaign submitted signatures on Aug. 10 for a tax credit educational scholarship program in Michigan.

The initiative, if approved, would provide for income tax credits for contributions to organizations for the granting of Student Opportunity Scholarships. A companion initiative, also supported by the Let MI Kids Learn campaign, would create the program for Student Opportunity Scholarships. A Student Opportunity Scholarship would be a grant for certain eligible students that meet income or disability requirements, or children who are in foster care. The grant can be used for tuition, textbooks, school uniforms, and other educational expenses, including for nonpublic education. The Let MI Kids Learn campaign did not submit signatures yet for this companion initiative, but a spokesperson of the Let MI Kids Learn campaign, Amy Hawkins, says that the signatures for the companion initiative are coming soon.

“After school shutdowns and COVID learning loss, families are desperate for the change that this proposal brings to Michigan education,” said Fred Wszolek, a spokesperson for the Let MI Kids Learn campaign. “Michigan families will soon have more educational choices for their children than anywhere in America, and that’s good news for the future of our state.”

The Let MI Kids Learn campaign submitted 520,598 signatures to the Michigan Bureau of Elections. To place an initiative on the ballot in Michigan, 340,047 valid signatures are required. However, the deadline for submitting signatures to qualify for the November 2022 ballot was on June 1, so the initiative would not qualify for the 2022 general election, but for the 2024 general election. This would occur if the measure is not approved by the legislature first.

Out of the twenty-one states that allow initiated state statutes, nine states, including Michigan, use an indirect process for initiated statutes. This means that after a campaign submits signatures and has the signatures verified, the initiative goes to the state legislature. The state legislature then has 40 days to adopt or reject the initiative. In Michigan, if the legislature approves of the initiative, the governor does not have the power to veto it. If the legislature rejects the initiative, it goes on the ballot for voters to decide.

A spokesperson for the For MI Kids, For Our Schools campaign, which is leading the opposition to this measure, said that this initiative would take funding away from public schools. 

“Our local schools are struggling with an educator shortage and a lack of mental health resources for our kids,” said Casandra Ulbrich, “This voucher proposal will only make the situation worse by taking away hundreds of millions of dollars every year from our local schools and giving the funding to for-profit private schools that are unaccountable to taxpayers.”

The initiative will wait for the signature verification process by the Bureau of Elections. If there are at least 340,047 valid signatures, the measure will go to the Michigan State Legislature for consideration. 

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North Dakota is the fifth state with a marijuana legalization initiative certified for 2022 ballot

The North Dakota secretary of state announced on August 15, 2022, that a marijuana legalization initiative qualified for the ballot. About 23,000 signatures were deemed valid. To qualify for the ballot, 15,582 signatures needed to be valid.

The initiative, sponsored by New Approach North Dakota, would legalize marijuana for adults 21 years old and older. Individuals would be allowed to purchase, possess, transport, and distribute up to one ounce (28.35 grams) of marijuana, four grams of marijuana in a concentrated form, and 500 milligrams of marijuana in infused products. Under the initiative, individuals could possess up to three marijuana plants that are kept in a locked space in a private residence and are not visible from a public place. The smell of marijuana, the possession of marijuana, or the suspicion of possession of marijuana would not alone warrant detention, search, or arrest unless there was evidence that the quantity limitations were exceeded.

Under the measure, the Department of Health and Human Services could license up to seven cultivation facilities and 18 dispensaries.

In 2018, North Dakota voters rejected a marijuana legalization initiative backed by Legalize ND — Measure 3 — by a vote of 59.45% to 40.55%. David Owen was the primary sponsor and campaign chairman for Measure 3 as well as the 2022 initiative. Owen said, “So, the biggest difference between now and Measure 3 of 2018 … is this is restricted, regulated, controlled, legal marijuana.”

So far, 19 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized the possession and personal use of marijuana for recreational purposes. In 11 states and D.C., the ballot initiative process was used to legalize marijuana. In one state, the legislature referred a measure to the ballot for voter approval. In seven states, bills to legalize marijuana were enacted into law.

Marijuana legalization measures are certified to appear on the 2022 ballot in Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, and South Dakota. Votes on the Arkansas initiative may not be counted pending a court ruling on the initiative’s ballot language.

Since 2002, 24 citizen initiatives have been on the ballot in North Dakota. Of the 24 initiatives, 11 (46%) were approved and 13 (54%) were defeated.

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Campaign to increase vote threshold for new or increased taxes in California submits signatures for a place on the 2024 ballot

Californians for Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability submitted more than 1.1 million signatures for a ballot initiative to increase the vote requirement for new taxes and define levies, charges, and fees as taxes in the California Constitution.

Currently, state tax increases require approval by a two-thirds vote in each chamber or a simple majority vote at a statewide election. Taxes can be reduced with a simple majority legislative vote. 

Under the amendment, new or increased taxes must be passed by a two-thirds legislative vote in each chamber and approved by a simple majority of voters. The amendment would also increase the vote requirement for local taxes proposed by local government or citizens to a two-thirds vote of the local electorate.

The amendment would require a bill proposing or increasing a tax to include the duration of the tax, an estimate of the annual revenue from the tax, a statement regarding the use of the revenue for specific or general purposes, and the ballot title and summary for the tax measure question. The initiative would authorize exempt charges not to be included in the definition of a tax. It would place the burden of proof on the state to present clear and convincing evidence that a charge is an exempt charge and not a tax.

The initiative defines an exempt charge as:

  • a reasonable charge that does not exceed the cost of a specific government service provided only to payors;
  • a charge equal to the regulatory costs for the state to issue licenses and permits; perform investigations, inspections, and audits; and enforce agricultural marketing orders;
  • a charge collected by local governments, health care providers, or service plans used to fund the non-federal portion of the Medi-Cal program;
  • a reasonable charge for entrance, use, rental, purchase, or lease of state property;
  • a fine or penalty imposed by the judiciary branch or state administrative enforcement agency as a result of a violation of law; and
  • a charge for the promotion of California tourism according to state law.

The committee behind the initiative initially aimed for the 2022 ballot but missed the June 30 signature submission deadline. The committee has raised over $15.2 million in contributions. The top donors to the committee include California Business Roundtable Issues PAC ($5.5 million), AMR Holdco Inc. ($3.1 million), Douglas Emmett Properties ($1.5 million), Kilroy Realty LP ($1.5 million), and Michael K. Hayde ($1.4 million).

Californians for Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability said on their website, “The Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act will give voters the right to vote on all future state taxes and holds politicians accountable for new fees and other increased costs paid by working families and all Californians.”

The initiative is opposed by AFSCME California, California Contract Cities Association, California Professional Firefighters, California State Council of Laborers, SEIU California State Council, and League of California Cities.

Graham Knaus, executive director of the California State Association of Counties (CSAC), said, “This deceptive initiative would undermine the rights of local voters and their elected officials to make decisions on critical local services that residents rely upon. It creates major new tax loopholes at the expense of residents and will weaken our local services and communities.”

Three initiatives have qualified for the 2024 ballot. They relate to establishing an institute on pandemic prevention research, increasing the state’s minimum wage, and changing the process for remedying labor violations.

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Arkansas marijuana legalization initiative to appear on November ballot; votes may not be counted pending state supreme court ruling

On Aug. 11, the Arkansas Supreme Court ordered the Secretary of State to certify a marijuana legalization initiative for the election on Nov. 8. Votes on the initiative may not be counted pending a court ruling on the initiative’s ballot language.

Responsible Growth Arkansas, the campaign behind the marijuana legalization initiative, submitted more than 190,000 signatures on July 8. The Arkansas secretary of state announced on July 29 that the campaign had submitted more than the required number of valid signatures (89,151) and would qualify for the ballot if the Arkansas State Board of Election Commissioners certified the ballot language.

On Aug. 3, 2022, the election commissioners declined to certify the ballot title and popular names for the initiative, stating that the language was misleading. The next day, Responsible Growth Arkansas filed a lawsuit in the state Supreme Court. The campaign said the board “[thwarted] the will of the people and their right to adopt laws by initiative.” The campaign requested an expedited review because the deadline for the secretary of state to certify measures for the 2022 ballot is August 25. On August 11, the state Supreme Court ordered the secretary of state to certify the measure for the ballot. Votes on the initiative may not be counted, however, if the supreme court rules that the ballot language is misleading. Case briefs were scheduled to be filed with the court through September 2, 2022.

The measure would legalize marijuana use for individuals 21 years of age and older and authorize the commercial sale of marijuana with a 10% sales tax. Adults could possess up to one ounce of marijuana. Under the amendment, businesses that already hold licenses under the state’s medical marijuana program would be authorized to sell marijuana for personal use. An additional 40 licenses would be given to businesses chosen by a lottery. The Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Division of the Department of Finance and Administration would regulate the program and provide for cannabis business licensing.

Marijuana legalization measures are certified to appear on the 2022 ballot in Maryland, Missouri, and South Dakota. Marijuana legalization measures could also appear on the ballot in Oklahoma and North Dakota. Currently, 19 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized the possession and personal use of marijuana for recreational purposes. Eleven states and D.C. had legalized marijuana through the ballot initiative process.

Since 2012, the Arkansas Supreme Court has invalidated nine citizen-initiated measures that had been certified for the ballot. In 2020, three citizen-initiated measures were certified for the ballot. Two were later blocked from appearing on the ballot. One appeared on the ballot, but votes for the measure were not counted or certified. In 2018, a citizen initiative was blocked from appearing on the ballot after having been certified. In 2016, three initiatives appeared on the ballot, but votes on the measures were not counted or certified. In 2012, two initiatives appeared on the ballot, but votes were not counted or certified.

From 2012 to 2018, six citizen initiatives appeared on the ballot and had votes counted and results certified. Of the six measures, four were approved (66.67%) and two (33.33%) were defeated.



Ranked-choice voting initiative will not appear on the ballot in Missouri

On August 9, Secretary of State John Ashcroft (R) announced that a top-four ranked-choice voting initiative will not make the Missouri general election ballot due to an insufficient number of valid signatures submitted.

The campaign behind the citizen initiative, Better Elections, needed to submit at least 171,592 valid signatures in order to qualify the initiative for the ballot. To receive a Certificate of Sufficiency, a minimum number of valid signatures must be obtained in six of the eight congressional districts in Missouri. Missouri is one of sixteen states with a signature distribution requirement for citizen-initiated measures, and of those sixteen, Missouri is one of five states where the distribution requirement is based on congressional districts.

In the tabulated results put out by Secretary Ashcroft’s office, the initiative did not meet the valid signature requirement in any of Missouri’s eight congressional districts.

Another citizen initiative, a measure that would legalize marijuana in Missouri, did pass the verification process and will appear on the ballot in November.

Scott Charton, a spokesman for the Better Elections campaign, said the campaign will “remain committed to our core mission: giving voters better and more choices in elections, empowering them to hold politicians accountable when they lose their way, and ensuring integrity in elections.”

The initiative would have changed the electoral system in Missouri for electing state executive, state legislative, and congressional officials. It would have replaced partisan primaries with open top-four primaries, and would have established ranked-choice voting for general elections, in which voters could rank the four candidates that succeeded from the primaries. The system would have been similar to Alaska’s, where voters approved an initiative in 2020. In addition to Alaska, Maine also allows ranked-choice voting in federal elections and certain statewide primaries, and Hawaii has also enacted that ranked-choice voting for federal special elections would take place starting in 2023.

Ranked-choice voting will also appear on the ballot in another state this year–Nevada has put a top-five ranked choice voting initiative on the ballot.

Currently, there are five measures on the ballot in Missouri: three legislatively referred constitutional amendments, one citizen-initiated constitutional amendment, and one constitutional convention question.

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California Propositions 26 and 27 become the most expensive ballot measures in California since 1999 

Committees supporting and opposing California Propositions 26 and 27, which would enact in-person and mobile sports betting respectively, have raised over $256.4 million becoming the most expensive ballot measures in California history. The committees eclipsed the 2020 app-based drivers initiative, Proposition 22, which raised $224.3 million.

Proposition 26, backed by American Indian tribes, would legalize sports betting at American Indian gaming casinos and licensed racetracks in California. Proposition 27, which is supported by BetMGM LLC, FanDuel Sportsbook, and DraftKings, would legalize online and mobile sports betting. 

The latest campaign finance filings filed on Aug. 1 cover through June 30. The Yes on 26, No on 27 – Coalition for Safe, Responsible Gaming PAC is leading the campaigns supporting Proposition 26 and opposing Proposition 27. The PAC reported over $73 million in contributions.

No on 26 – Taxpayers Against Special Interest Monopolies is leading the campaign against Proposition 26. The campaign, along with the now terminated No on the Gambling Power Grab PAC, raised $42.24 million. The top donors to the opposition were gambling-related companies, including the California Commerce Club, Hawaiian Gardens Casino, Knighted Ventures LLC, Park West Casinos, The Bicycle Hotel & Casino, and PT Gaming LLC.

Yes on 27 – Californians for Solutions to Homelessness and Mental Health Support PAC was registered to support Proposition 27. The PAC raised over $100 million with BetMGM LLC, FanDuel Sportsbook, and DraftKings each contributing $16.7 million.

No on 27 – Californians for Tribal Sovereignty and Safe Gaming PAC was also registered to oppose Proposition 27. It reported over $41.1 million in contributions. The top contributors were the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, the Rincon Band of Luiseno Mission Indians of the Rincon Reservation California, and the Pala Casino Resort Spa.

Based on available reports on Cal-Access, which provides information on campaign finance from 1999 to the present, the next most expensive measures behind Proposition 26, Proposition 27, and Proposition 22 were four veto referendums against gaming compacts—Propositions 94, 95, 96, and 97—that raised a combined total of $154.5 million in contributions. 

The following table illustrates the top eight most expensive ballot measures between 1999 and 2020.

Californians will decide on seven ballot propositions this November. Ballotpedia is tracking 11 committees surrounding the measures with a total of $352.1 million in contributions.

Additional reading:

California Proposition 26, Legalize Sports Betting on American Indian Lands Initiative (2022)

California Proposition 27, Legalize Sports Betting and Revenue for Homelessness Prevention Fund Initiative (2022)



Arkansas Board of Election Commissioners declines to certify ballot language for initiatives to legalize marijuana and repeal Pope County’s casino authorization

On August 3, the Arkansas Board of Election Commissioners declined to certify the ballot titles and popular names for two initiatives that had submitted signatures. Fair Play for Arkansas 2022 said they were considering their options to challenge the board’s decision. Responsible Growth Arkansas said they planned to challenge the board’s decision with the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Responsible Growth Arkansas, the campaign behind the marijuana legalization initiative, submitted more than 190,000 signatures on July 8, 2022. The Arkansas Secretary of State announced on July 29 that the campaign had submitted more than the required number of valid signatures (89,151) and would qualify for the ballot if the Board of Election Commissioners certified the ballot language.

The measure would legalize marijuana use for individuals 21 years of age and older and authorize the commercial sale of marijuana with a 10% sales tax. Adults could possess up to one ounce of marijuana. Under the amendment, businesses that already hold licenses under the state’s medical marijuana program would be authorized to sell marijuana for personal use. An additional 40 licenses would be given to businesses chosen by a lottery. The Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Division of the Department of Finance and Administration would regulate the program and provide for cannabis business licensing.

Currently, 19 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized the possession and personal use of marijuana for recreational purposes. Eleven states and D.C. had legalized marijuana through the ballot initiative process.

Fair Play for Arkansas 2022 reported submitting 103,096 signatures for an initiative to repeal the casino authorization for Pope County. In 2018, voters approved Issue 4 authorizing the county to grant a casino license for one casino. Under Issue 4, the Pope County license required applicants to pay fees to apply, demonstrate experience in conducting casino gaming, or furnish a letter of support from the county judge. The Pope County license was awarded to the Cherokee Nation.

In Arkansas, a total of 44 ballot measures appeared on the statewide ballot between 2000 and 2020. Thirty-two (72.73%) ballot measures were approved, and 12 (27.27%) ballot measures were defeated.