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Fate of four initiatives in Arkansas uncertain due to state law requiring signature gatherers to certify that they passed background checks

A veto referendum concerning eye surgeries, which was certified on January 31 to appear on the November ballot, is awaiting a final determination from the Arkansas Supreme Court about whether it will remain on the ballot.

 

Arkansans for Healthy Eyes (opponents of the veto referendum effort) filed a lawsuit on February 28, 2020, alleging that Safe Surgery Arkansas, the sponsors of the veto referendum effort, fraudulently gathered signatures and misled petition signers. On April 2, 2020, the Arkansas Supreme Court appointed Special Master Mark Hewett to conduct a hearing and review petitioners’ claims and to submit a report of his findings to the court.

 

Arkansas state law requires sponsors to certify to the Secretary of State that each paid canvasser passed a state and federal criminal background check. Safe Surgery Arkansas certified that the “background check, as well as a 50-state background check, have been timely acquired.”

 

In his report on July 13, Special Master Mark Hewett found that state law—§ 7-9-601(b)(3)—requires sponsors to certify that canvassers passed the background checks and that Safe Surgery Arkansas’ certification said instead that the checks were acquired.

 

Alex Gray of Safe Surgery Arkansas said he was confident that the Supreme Court would allow the signatures to stand. A supreme court ruling is expected in mid to late August.

 

On July 14, 2020, Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston determined that signature petitions for three citizen initiatives for which proponents submitted signatures on July 6 are insufficient based on the requirement that sponsors certify that canvassers passed background checks and said his office was barred from counting the signatures that were submitted.

 

Arkansas Wins in 2020, sponsors of an amendment to authorize 16 additional casinos, did not file the certification. Similarly to Safe Surgery Arkansas, the Arkansas Voters First and Open Primaries Arkansas campaigns submitted certifications stating that the background checks were acquired but did not say they were passed. Arkansas Voters First is supporting an amendment to create an independent redistricting commission. Open Primaries Arkansas is supporting a top-four open primary ranked-choice voting initiative. Safe Surgery Arkansas, Arkansas Voters First, and Open Primaries Arkansas used petition gathering company National Ballot Access to gather signatures.

 

The campaigns asked the state supreme court on July 17 to order Secretary of State John Thurston to count the signatures and give the groups at least 30 days to collect additional signatures. In Arkansas, if petitioners fail to meet the signature requirement, but the petitioners have gathered at least 75% of the valid signatures needed, petitioners have 30 days to collect additional signatures or demonstrate that rejected signatures are valid.

 

David Couch, attorney for the redistricting and ranked-choice voting measures, said he would file an amicus brief in the veto referendum case that is pending supreme court action.

 

The state legislature has referred three constitutional amendments to the 2020 ballot that would (1) make permanent a 0.5 percent sales tax to fund transportation otherwise set to expire in 2023, (2) change term limits for state legislators, and (3) change initiative process and legislative referral requirements.

 

From 1996 through 2018, an average of four measures appeared on the ballot during even-numbered years in Arkansas. During even-numbered years between 1996 and 2018, 73% (35 of 48) of statewide ballot measures in Arkansas were approved by voters, and 27% (13 of 48) were defeated.

 



Massachusetts voters will decide on ranked-choice voting initiative in November

Voter Choice for Massachusetts, the campaign sponsoring the ranked-choice voting initiative, announced on Twitter on July 10 that Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin had certified the initiative for the November ballot. The secretary of state confirmed that 17,512 of the 25,000 signatures submitted for the second deadline were valid. A total of 13,374 valid signatures was required.

The Massachusetts Ranked-Choice Voting Initiative would enact ranked-choice voting (RCV) for primary and general elections for state executive officials, state legislators, federal congressional and senate seats, and certain county offices beginning in 2022.

RCV is a voting method in which voters rank candidates according to their preferences. The candidate that receives a majority of first-preference votes is declared the winner. If no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated. First-preference votes cast for the failed candidate are eliminated, and the second-preference choices indicated on those ballots are tallied as their first preference in the following round. The process is continued until a candidate wins a simple majority (50%+1) of the vote.

As of 2020, Maine was the only state to use RCV for state-level elections. Currently, Cambridge, Massachusetts, is the only jurisdiction in the state to have used the voting system. Amherst and Easthampton have also adopted the system and are working on implementing it.

Voters in Alaska will also decide a ranked-choice voting initiative in November, and proponents of RCV initiatives in Arkansas and North Dakota submitted signatures in early July to qualify their measures for the November ballot.

The power of initiative is indirect in Massachusetts, which means the Massachusetts General Court must consider any successful initiative proposals. Petitions targeting the 2020 ballot had to first be cleared for circulation by the state attorney general before submitting the first round of 80,239 signatures (3 percent of the votes cast for governor in the last election) by December 4, 2019.  Of the 10 initiatives cleared for circulation in September 2019, four initiatives submitted the first round of signatures. Voter Choice for Massachusetts reported submitting 111,268 raw signatures.

The Massachusetts General Court did not act on any of the indirect initiatives by the May 5, 2020 deadline, requiring the four remaining campaigns to submit a second round of signatures (0.5 percent of the votes cast for governor) by July 1, 2020.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent restrictions on social gatherings, the four campaigns filed a joint lawsuit on April 26 against the secretary of state asking the Supreme Judicial Court to allow the campaigns to gather the second round of 13,347 signatures electronically.

On April 29, all four active ballot initiative campaigns and Secretary Galvin agreed to a resolution that allowed the campaigns to gather the second round of signatures electronically. Campaigns distributed the petitions online to be electronically signed or printed and mailed back to the respective campaign.

On June 17, 2020, Voter Choice for Massachusetts announced that it had submitted over 25,000 raw signatures for the second round. In the press release from Voter Choice Massachusetts, Cara Brown McCormick, a senior advisor to the campaign, said, “This was the first electronic signature drive to get a citizen’s initiative on the ballot in American history.”

The secretary of state also certified the Massachusetts “Right to Repair” Initiative, which would expand the access to telematics systems for vehicle owners and independent repair shops. Massachusetts voters approved a “right to repair” initiative in 2012. Proponents of the 2020 initiative argue that the 2012 law needs to be updated to account for recent technological advances.

Between 1996 and 2018, an average of three measures appeared on the ballot in Massachusetts during even-numbered election years. A total of 39 measures appeared during that period with 54% of the measures approved.

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Massachusetts to decide “Right to Repair” initiative

Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin reported that 17,596 of the 26,000 signatures submitted for an initiative referred to as Right to Repair were valid, certifying the initiative for the November ballot.

The initiative would require manufacturers that sell vehicles with telematics systems in Massachusetts to equip them with a standardized open data platform beginning with the model year 2022 that vehicle owners and independent repair facilities may access to retrieve mechanical data and run diagnostics through a mobile-based application.

In 2012, Massachusetts voters approved its first “right to repair” initiative that required automobile manufacturers to provide non-proprietary diagnostic information and safety information needed to repair cars directly to consumers and independent repair facilities. The 2012 law required that such information be made available through an “off-the-shelf personal computer.” The initiative was approved with 87.7% of the vote.

Alan Saks, the owner of Dorchester Tire Service and a supporter of the 2020 initiative, said, “We need to update the Right to Repair law before wireless technologies remove the car owner’s right to get their vehicle repaired at our local, independent shop because the automaker would rather steer them towards one of their more expensive dealers.”

The power of initiative is indirect in Massachusetts, which means the Massachusetts General Court must consider any successful initiative proposals. Petitions targeting the 2020 ballot had to first be cleared for circulation by the state attorney general before submitting the first round of 80,239 signatures (3 percent of the votes cast for governor in the last election) by December 4, 2019.

Of the 10 initiatives cleared for circulation in September 2019, four initiatives submitted the first round of signatures. Right to Repair Massachusetts submitted 103,634 raw signatures on December 4, 2019. The state legislature did not act on the initiative before the May 5, 2020 deadline, requiring the campaign to gather an additional 13,374 signatures (0.5 percent of the votes cast for governor) by July 1, 2020.

On April 26, the four remaining initiative campaigns filed a lawsuit against the secretary of state asking the Supreme Judicial Court to allow the campaigns to gather the second round of 13,347 signatures electronically. On April 29, all four active ballot initiative campaigns and Secretary Galvin agreed to a resolution that allowed the campaigns to gather the second round of signatures electronically. Campaigns distributed the petitions online to be electronically signed or printed and mailed back to the respective campaign.  Right to Repair Massachusetts reported submitting over 26,000 unverified signatures by the July 1 deadline.

The secretary of state also certified the Massachusetts Ranked-Choice Voting Initiative, which would enact ranked-choice voting (RCV) for primary and general elections for state executive officials, state legislators, federal congressional and senate seats, and certain county offices beginning in 2022. Currently, Maine is the only state that uses RCV for state-level elections. Currently, Cambridge, Massachusetts, is the only jurisdiction in the state to use the voting system. Amherst and Easthampton have also adopted the system and are working on implementing it.

Between 1996 and 2018, an average of three measures appeared on the ballot in Massachusetts during even-numbered election years. A total of 39 measures appeared during that period with 54% of the measures approved.

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First public hearing on charter amendment to replace the Minneapolis Police Department will take place Wednesday

On July 15, the Minneapolis Charter Commission will hold a public hearing on a proposed charter amendment that would remove all reference to the city’s police department from the charter and add a section establishing the Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention. The Minneapolis City Council proposed this amendment for the Nov. 3 ballot.

The measure would:
  1. Eliminate charter provisions concerning the city’s police department.
  2. Establish the Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention and the director of the new department.
  3. The director of the department would be nominated by the mayor and confirmed by the city council.
  4. Allow a Division of Law Enforcement Services within the new department;
  5. The division would be made up of licensed peace officers.
  6. Its director would be appointed by the director of the Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention.
  7. Give the city council authority to establish the Division of Law Enforcement Services.

Currently, the mayor has authority over the police department and nominates the police chief, who must be confirmed by the city council. The existing charter also requires the city council to provide funding to the police department to provide for “a police force of at least 0.0017 employees per resident.”

Minneapolis City Council members Jeremiah Ellison, Alondra Cano, Cam Gordon, Steve Fletcher, and President Lisa Bender sponsored the proposal.

Councilmember Jeremiah Ellison said, “No singular action is going to undo longstanding systemic oppression, racial oppression. This is one action of many that we need to take on the road to a more equitable and just system that keeps people safe.”

Mayor Jacob Frey opposes the amendment. He argued that the amendment was unclear and that diverting accountability away from the mayor and the police chief and giving authority to the city council was a bad idea. Frey said, “Will we still have police? If you vote for this, are you voting to abolish the police department or is this merely a cosmetic change where you add a bureaucratic layer, you change the name to peace officer and give them different uniforms?” Frey also said, “If this is about me. There’s an election next year.”

Here is a timeline of the events leading up to the charter amendment and how far this measure has progressed:
  1. May 25: Minneapolis police officers arrested George Floyd, a Black man, after receiving a call that he had made a purchase with a counterfeit $20 bill. Floyd died after one officer, Derek Chauvin, arrived at the scene and pressed his knee onto Floyd’s neck as Floyd laid face-down on the street in handcuffs.
  2. June 12: Sponsors of the proposal gave notice that they would introduce it at the following council meeting.
  3. June 26: The Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously to send the proposed charter amendment to the Minneapolis Charter Commission.
  4. While the city council does not have to follow the recommendation of the charter commission, the city council cannot act on the proposal before receiving an official recommendation from the charter commission according to state law.
  5. The charter commission has a maximum of 150 days to review charter amendment proposals from the city council.
  6. The city council must give final approval to the charter amendment by August 21 to put the measure on this year’s ballot. It requested the charter commission to expedite its review.
  7. July 1: The charter commission scheduled the first of two public hearings on the amendment for July 15.
  8. August 5: In response to the request for an expedited timeline, Commission Chair Barry Clegg said that the commission would consider a final decision on the proposal during its August 5 meeting, allowing for a vote by the city council by August 21 if the commission agrees on a recommendation. Clegg said, however, “If we elect to take our additional time, this ballot question will not be on the ballot in November.”
  9. August 21: The deadline for the city council to approve the amendment for the Nov. 3 ballot.
This is not the first time the city council has tried to put a charter amendment concerning the police department on the ballot. In 2018, the Minneapolis City Council voted 7-5 to send a charter amendment proposal to the Minneapolis Charter Commission that would have repealed provisions in the charter giving the mayor complete control over the city’s police department. The measure would have allowed rules and regulations for the police department to come from both the city council and the mayor. The charter commission did not make a recommendation to the city council in time for the city council to put the measure on the 2018 ballot.
Click here for the timeline of that 2018 charter amendment proposal. 


Citizen initiative activity and petition success rates from 2010 through 2018

As of July 1, 882 ballot initiatives and veto referendums were filed with state officials for circulation during the 2020 election cycle. Initiatives and referendums have been filed in 23 of the 26 states with a statewide process. Washington, Colorado, and Missouri had the highest numbers of filings at 229, 193, and 151, respectively. California has the next highest with 46.

Twenty-four ballot initiatives and five veto referendums—29 total citizen-initiated measures—have been certified to appear on 2020 ballots. Proponents of 19 other citizen-initiated measures submitted signatures, which must now be verified by state officials.

From 2010 through 2018, an average of 761 initiatives and veto referendums were filed for even-numbered election years. An average of 59 initiatives were certified during those cycles, which amounted to an average petition success rate of 7.8%. In 2016 and 2018, there were over 50% more initiatives and veto referendums filed—1,069 and 947—as the median of 616 since 2010. There were 76—which was a decade high—and 68 certified citizen-initiated measures in those years respectively.

Missouri, Washington, and Colorado featured the highest average initiative filings from 2010 through 2018 with 185, 129, and 103, respectively, and average success rates of 1.7%, 3.6%, and 4.9%. California had an average of 95 initiative filings and an 11% success rate.

Among states with a statewide ballot initiative process, the following states had the highest average success rates for ballot measure petitions from 2010 through 2018:

  • North Dakota – 50% and an average of eight filings per cycle.
  • South Dakota – 45% and an average of eight filings per cycle.
  • Alaska – 38% and an average of five filings per cycle.
  • Maine – 35% and an average of 6 filings per cycle.
The following six states featured the largest number of statewide initiatives and veto referendums on the ballot. They are listed with the average success rates of petitions and the average number of filings per cycle from 2010 through 2018:
  • Oregon – 9% and an average of 63 filings
  • California – 11% and an average of 95 filings
  • North Dakota – 50% and an average of eight filings
  • Colorado – 5% and an average of 103 filings
  • Washington – 4% and an average of 129 filings
  • Arizona – 6% and an average of 27 filings
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Oregon voters will decide on Psilocybin Program Initiative in November

The Oregon Secretary of State certified the Psilocybin Program Initiative for the November ballot after completing the signature verification process on July 8. The secretary of state verified that 132,465 of the 160,963 signatures submitted were valid. The signature validity rate was 82.3 percent.

The initiative establishes the Oregon Psilocybin Services Program under the Oregon Health Authority. The program would permit licensed service providers to administer a psilocybin product to pre-screened individuals 21 years of age or older through a process that consists of preparation, administration, and integration sessions. The initiative requires a two-year development period for the Oregon Health Authority to adopt regulations for psilocybin services and licensing. It also requires that an advisory board appointed by the governor be established to advise the Oregon Health Authority.

The Oregon Psilocybin Society (OPS) is leading the Yes on IP 34 campaign. As of the last campaign finance deadline on June 5, the campaign had received $1.2 million in contributions. New Approach PAC, a nonprofit that has endorsed and financially supported marijuana ballot measures, contributed $1 million.

Yes on IP 34 previously announced on May 4 that they would coordinate their campaign efforts to gather signatures with the Yes on IP 44 initiative that was certified for the ballot on June 30.

Yes on IP 44 is sponsoring the Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative that would reclassify personal possession drug offenses from misdemeanors to violations with a maximum penalty of a $100 fine or a completed health assessment. It would also establish a drug addiction treatment and recovery program.

Two legislative referrals will also appear on the November ballot that concern campaign finance and tobacco taxes.

In 2019, 50.64 percent of Denver voters approved Initiated Ordinance 301, the Psilocybin Mushroom Initiative. The measure made the adult possession and use of psilocybin mushrooms the lowest law enforcement priority in Denver and prohibited the city from spending resources on enforcing related penalties.

Decriminalize Nature D.C., the campaign behind a similar initiative in Washington, D.C., filed 36,249 signatures with the D.C. Board of Elections. The campaign needs 24,836 valid signatures with a certain number from at least five of eight wards to qualify its initiative for the ballot.

A total of 183 measures appeared on statewide ballots in Oregon from 1995 to 2018. Of the total, 47.54 percent were approved.

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Louisiana parishes to vote on sports betting in November

On June 12, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D) signed Senate Bill 130 (SB 130) that will ask the voters in each of Louisiana’s 64 parishes whether or not to authorize sports betting within the parish. If a majority of voters in a parish support authorizing sports betting, sports betting would be allowed in the parish after state laws are passed providing for the regulation of such activities.

In Louisiana, a simple majority vote in both chambers of the state legislature is required to refer a statutory measure to the ballot. The governor’s signature is also required to refer the measure. Senator Cameron Henry (R-9) introduced SB 130 on February 25, 2020. The Louisiana State Senate passed the bill in a vote of 29-8 on May 13, 2020. The Louisiana House of Representatives passed the bill on May 17, 2020, in a vote of 71-23 with nine representatives absent.

In 2018, the legislature sent a similar set of parish measures legalizing fantasy sports to the ballot. Forty-seven (47) of the 64 parishes approved the measures, and 17 parishes defeated the measure.

In November 2020, Maryland voters will decide on the Sports Betting Expansion Measure that would authorize sports and events wagering at certain licensed facilities with state revenue intended to fund public education. Voters in Deadwood, South Dakota will also be voting on a measure that would legalize sports betting within the city limits. As of May 2020, 22 states had passed laws legalizing sports betting.

On May 14, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in Murphy v. NCAA that the federal government could not require states to prohibit sports betting, thereby overturning the federal ban on sports betting (the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act or PASPA) and allowing states to legalize sports betting.

The Louisiana State Legislature has also certified six statewide constitutional amendments for the November ballot. The topics of the amendments include abortion, state government finances, taxes, and natural resources.

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Colorado Legislature gives final approval to a charitable bingo and raffles amendment and a cigarette tax increase measure

On Monday, the Colorado State Legislature sent two measures to the November 2020 ballot.

One measure would amend the state constitution to require charitable organizations to have existed for three years before obtaining a charitable gaming license instead of the current constitutional requirement of five years. The amendment would allow charitable organizations to hire managers and operators of gaming activities so long as they are not paid more than the minimum wage. Currently, the constitution requires those who operate charitable gaming activities to be a member of the organization working as an unpaid volunteer.

The other measure would increase cigarette taxes and create a new tax on nicotine products such as e-cigarettes. It would dedicate revenues to various health and education programs. The measure requires voter approval under TABOR since it would increase state revenue. The TABOR Amendment requires voter approval for all new taxes, tax rate increases, extensions of expiring taxes, mill levy increases, valuation for property assessment increases, or tax policy changes resulting in increased tax revenue. The Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights was passed in 1992 as Initiative 1 by a vote of 53.68% to 46.32%. The measure was spearheaded by Colorado activist Douglas Bruce (R). TABOR limits the amount of money the state of Colorado can take in and spend. It limits the annual increase for some state revenue to inflation plus the percentage change in state population. Any money collected above this limit is refunded to taxpayers unless the voters allow the state to spend it.

Currently, in Colorado, cigarettes are taxed at a base rate of one cent per cigarette. The measure would incrementally increase the per-cigarette base tax rate as follows:
  1. 6.5 cents per cigarette from January 1, 2021, to July 1, 2024;
  2. 8 cents per cigarette from July 1, 2024, to July 1, 2027; and
  3. 10 cents per cigarette after July 1, 2027.

Additionally, Amendment 35 of 2004 authorized an additional tax of 3.2 cents per cigarette. Revenues from this additional voter-approved tax are exempt from the TABOR limit.

With the addition of these two measures, Coloradans are set to vote on a total of eight ballot measures in November. However, the state legislature passed a bill that would delay one of the measures, a transportation bond issue, to the 2021 ballot if signed by Governor Jared Polis (D).

A measure to repeal the Gallagher Amendment of 1982 was also referred to the 2020 ballot by the legislature. The Gallagher Amendment limits the residential and non-residential property tax assessment rates so that residential property taxes equal 45% of the total share of state property taxes and non-residential property taxes equal 55% of the total share of state property taxes. The measure was passed by the Senate on June 9 in a vote of 27-7 and was passed by the House in a vote of 51-14 on June 12, 2020.

Fourteen citizen initiatives have been cleared for signature gathering in Colorado with signatures due by August 3 to qualify for the 2020 ballot.

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Proponents of a veto referendum in Washington file signatures to repeal a bill requiring comprehensive sexual health education in public schools

Parents for Safe Schools, sponsors of Referendum 90, submitted 266,000 signatures to the Washington Secretary of State’s office on Wednesday. To qualify the referendum for the November ballot,129,811 of the signatures must be valid.

Referendum 90 petitioners seek to repeal Senate Bill 5395, which was signed by Governor Jay Inslee (D) on March 27, 2020. Senate Bill 3395, sponsored by Senator Claire Wilson (D), vice-chair of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee, was passed in the State House on March 4 along party lines with Democrats voting in favor and Republicans voting against. It passed in the Senate along party lines on March 7, except one Democrat, Tim Sheldon, joined all Senate Republicans in voting no. The bill is on hold pending the verification of signatures, and if placed on the ballot, the result of the election.

Senate Bill 5395 would require public schools to provide comprehensive sexual health education to students in grades 6-12 beginning in the 2021-22 school year and for all public school students, including those in grades K-5, beginning in the 2022-23 school year. The curriculum would have to include instruction and information regarding affirmative consent and bystander training. Sexual health education would need to be provided at least once to students in grades K-3, once to students in grades 4-5, twice to students in grades 6-8, and twice to students in grades 9-12. Sexual health education would not be required to be integrated into unrelated subjects or courses.

Under SB 5395, comprehensive sexual health education means “recurring instruction in human development and reproduction that is age-appropriate and inclusive of all students.” Course materials would need to be medically and scientifically accurate, meaning the information has been verified or supported by scientific research, has been published in peer-reviewed journals, and is recognized as accurate by organizations such as the Washington State Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Under the bill, schools would be required to notify parents that they are providing comprehensive sexual health education and make all course materials accessible to the parents. Parents could file a written request with the school district or the school’s principal to excuse their child from sexual health education instruction. School districts would be required to grant such requests.

SB 5395 sponsor Sen. Claire Wilson (D) said, “Some people hear the words ‘sex education’ and mistake the focus of the curriculum, which is health and safety, and is age-appropriate for each grade level. This is about making sure younger children know what kind of touching is inappropriate, whether by peers or predators. It’s about helping older students recognize and resist abusive or coercive behavior. It’s about teaching all children to respect diversity and not to bully others. Students need a safe place to ask questions, to fully understand consent, and to have the information they need to make safe decisions.”

Parents for Safe Schools said SB 5395 “mandates graphic sex education starting in elementary school” and “orders school districts to ‘comprehensively’ include sex ed in all curriculum — including math, social studies, science, business and computer classes. … Keep the Olympia activists out of our classrooms. Parents and elected local school boards should be the only people deciding what is taught in our classrooms.”

The Washington State Catholic Conference, which opposes SB 5395, said, “The law requires ‘affirmative consent curriculum’ defined as ‘a conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity as a requirement before sexual activity.’ This requirement is not in accordance with church teaching that sexual activity be reserved for marriage. Parents can opt their children out of classroom instruction, but they cannot opt them out of school yard discussions and the culture change that may take place at school.”

Parents for Safe Schools had raised $158,903 according to the most recent reports available on June 11, 2020. The largest donor was The Reagan Fund, which is the name of the Washington State House Republican Leadership PAC.

Since the first in 1914, Washington voters have decided 38 statewide veto referendum measures at the ballot. Opponents of laws targeted for repeal collect signatures for veto referendum petitions hoping that voters will repeal the laws at the ballot. The most recent veto referendum, Referendum 88, was on the ballot in Washington in 2019. Voters rejected the targeted law, Initiative 1000. In 81.6% of cases (31 of 38), veto referendums resulted in the targeted bill being repealed. Conversely, 18.4% (seven of 37) of veto referendum measures resulted in the targeted law being upheld.

Between 1906 and 2019, 522 veto referendums appeared on the ballot in 23 states. Voters repealed 341 (65.3%) of the targeted laws. Voters upheld 181 (34.7 percent) of the targeted laws. The states with the most veto referendums were North Dakota (75), Oregon (68), and California (48).
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California Assembly passes bill for ballot measure to repeal Proposition 209, which banned considering race and sex in public jobs, education, and contracting in 1996

On June 10, the California State Assembly passed a constitutional amendment to repeal Proposition 209, which received 54.55 percent of the vote in 1996. Proposition 209 prohibited the state from considering race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.

In California, a two-thirds vote is needed in each chamber of the California State Legislature to refer a constitutional amendment to the ballot for voter consideration. In the state Assembly, the vote was 60 to 14—seven votes above the two-thirds threshold. Democrats, along with one Republican and the chamber’s one independent, supported for the constitutional amendment. Fourteen Republicans opposed the constitutional amendment.

Asm. Shirley Weber (D-79), chairwoman of the Legislative Black Caucus, is the principal sponsor of the constitutional amendment in the state Legislature. Asm. Weber stated, “The ongoing pandemic, as well as recent tragedies of police violence, is forcing Californians to acknowledge the deep-seated inequality and far-reaching institutional failures that show that your race and gender still matter.” Asm. Weber said that the constitutional amendment is about “equal opportunity for all and investment in our communities.”

Asm. Steven S. Choi (R-68), one of the Republicans who voted against the amendment, said, “Repealing Proposition 209, enacted by voters 24 years ago, is to repeal the prohibition of judgment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity and national origin. We are talking about legalizing racism and sexism.”

To appear on the ballot for November 3, 2020, the California State Senate needs to pass the constitutional amendment by June 25. At least 27 votes will be needed in the state Senate. Democrats control 29 of the Senate seats, while Republicans hold 11 seats.

As of June 11, no legislative referrals have been placed on the November ballot in California, but 10 have passed at least one chamber. Amendments related to sports betting and remote legislative proceedings are also being considered before the June 25 deadline.

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