Ballot Access News

On February 25, the North Dakota Senate passed SB 2183 by a vote of 31-16. This is the bill that says no one may circulate an initiative petition, or a recall petition, unless the individual has lived in the state for at least two years.

Republican Senators supported the bill by a margin of 29-4, but Democratic Senators opposed it by a margin of 2-12.

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The Massachusetts Joint Election Laws Committee will hear HB 1830 and SB 13 on March 23, Wednesday, at 1:30 p.m. These are identical bills to increase the number of signatures for a statewide initiative from 3% of the last gubernatorial vote, to 7% of the last gubernatorial vote. Currently, the Massachusetts statewide initiative process to change ordinary laws requires fewer signatures (as a percentage of the state’s population) than any other state.

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On March 3, the Oklahoma Senate passed SJR 37, which would make it more difficult for initiatives to get on the ballot. The bill adds a U.S. House district distribution requirement. Current law requires an initiative that changes an ordinary law to get the signatures of 8% of the last gubernatorial vote. The bill would provide that the petition would need 8% in each of the five districts. This is a proposed Constitutional change, and if it passes the House as well, would go on the ballot in November 2012. The vote in the Senate was 28-15.

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On January 7, a New York State Supreme Court ruled in favor of proponents of a local initiative, in Saratoga Citizens, Inc. v Franck, 03368/2010, Saratoga County. One of the issues was the requirement that petition sheets be fastened together. The proponents testified that when they had submitted the petition sheets, the sheets were fastened together with a binder clip (a spring-loaded clip).

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Earlier this year, it appeared that the South Carolina legislature was probably going to make ballot access for independent candidates more difficult. The Senate passed SB 590, to say that primary voters could not sign independent candidate petitions. The bill also made it illegal for newly-registered voters to sign for independent candidates, and said that no one could sign for more than one independent candidate for the same office. But the bill did lower the number of signatures.

In 2006, South Dakota had an initiative on the ballot to ban virtually all abortions. An anonymous donor had contributed $750,000 to get the initiative on the ballot and to carry on the campaign for it. The measure lost, 46% to 54%. Also in 2006, the South Dakota Secretary of State had sued the campaign committee set up to promote the initiative to learn the identity of the committee’s donor.

This week, two California initiatives entered circulation that would potentially affect how elections and legislative government would work in California’s future. One provides that the voters themselves, by initiative petition, could call a state Constitutional Convention. The other provides for a part-time legislature. Each needs 694,354 valid signatures, since they each are themselves proposed constitutional amendments.

On September 22, the Arizona Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of the city of Phoenix, in Jones v Paniagua. The issue is how many signatures are needed for a city referendum. The law says the number of signatures must be 10% of the vote cast in the last city election. But the uncertainty involved knowing which was the last city election, the 2007 first round (which had a high turnout and included the Mayor’s race), or the 2007 second round (which just had contests in some city council districts, plus a citywide ballot measure), which had a far lower turnout.

On June 24, New York Governor David Paterson signed A8501. It makes it fairly easy to qualify a local initiative that has the purpose of asking the voters if they wish to abolish any particular local unit of government, or if they wish to merge two different local governments.

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The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has struck down a Seattle law that prohibits engaging in speech, including petitioning,  near a “captive audience”. The ban governed activity in the Seattle Center, the area near the Space Needle.

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The Governor of New York is expected to sign a bill that makes it easier to use the local ballot initiative process. Only initiatives to dissolve or merge local governments would be effected.

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Arizona Bill Advances

Tue, Jun 16 2009 — Source: Ballot Access News

A bill has advanced past comittee in the Arizona Senate that would continue to prohibit people from other states from circulating a petition, despite a federal court ruling last year stiking that ban down. The bill would also take away the ability of petition circulators to assist elderly or disabled voters with filling out a petition.

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On June 3, the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Election Laws held a hearing on three bills to make it more difficult for initiatives to get on the ballot. As it usual in Massachusetts, the committee did not take any action on the hearing day itself.