An effort in Woburn, Massachusetts, to help educate area voters on the effects of future ballot measures and referendum questions has hit a snag in the City Council’s Liaison Committee.  Disagreements over the issue of who would write the summaries describing each ballot issue and who would approve that text have put any action on hold for now.

The issue arose after a 2014 local referendum on the adoption of a “Community Preservation Act,” which election officials were not allowed to explain to voters for the sake of neutrality. The measure ultimately failed, but inspired City Clerk William Campbell to push for some method by which voters could be better informed about ballot questions.

After more than a century in California’s political spotlight, the state’s initiative process will be getting a major revise next year. Even more surprising, both Democrats and Republicans in the famously partisan Legislature are happy to see it happen.

Got a ballot measure for 2016? You’re in luck.

Ballot initiatives two years from now will need about 30 percent fewer qualifying signatures than they did this year, according to the political-consulting types at Sacramento’s Redwood Pacific Public Affairs.

The reason: abysmal turnout for the Nov. 4 election. California requires valid signatures equal to 8 percent of the most recent gubernatorial vote to qualify a constitutional amendment for the ballot, 5 percent for regular laws and veto referenda.

Term limits deter corruption

Tue, Oct 14 2014 — Source: The Post and Courier

Insiders say more political scandal is in the offing, according to a Thursday story by Statehouse reporter Jeremy Borden. Swapping votes for judges and the misuse of so-called Super PAC money were among the possibilities cited in Mr. Borden’s article.

Our reporter was assured by one lawmaker that if there is wrongdoing, it won’t be on the scale of Lost Trust, the vote-buying scandal in the early ’90s.

But we’d feel more relief if it were a federal prosecutor providing that assurance.

Ever since California’s Proposition 7 passed in 1911, state residents have had the ability to propose constitutional amendments and changes to state law through “ballot propositions.”

By paying a submission fee (currently $200) and collecting signatures from a set percentage of the number of people who last voted for governor — 5 percent for statutes, 8 percent for constitutional amendments — proponents can begin a process to get their proposition on the ballot for a direct public vote.

On Monday, six additional initiative petitions were submitted to the Colorado Secretary of State for signature validation. 

However, four of those petitions are already being withdrawn after Governor John Hickenlooper and US Congressman Jared Polis, supporting of two measures “to restrict oil and gas operations,” reached an agreement with supporters of two industry-backed measures. The agreement means that all four initiatives concerning regulation of the oil and natural gas industries will not go on the ballot.

Supporters of two ballot initiatives spent the last week gathering signatures at the North Dakota State Fair.

The Minot Daily News reports ( that petitions were circulated for one measure requiring North Dakota schools to start after labor day and another measure that would establish a trust fund for water, wildlife and parks projects.

The deadline to get an issue on the November ballot is Aug. 6.

Read More: here

Secretary of Secretary of State and Chief Elections Officer Linda McCulloch has completed tabulating petition signatures for the 2014 ballot issues, and says no citizen-proposed issue has qualified to appear on the November General Election ballot.  Two legislative referenda will appear on the ballot, as referred by the 2013 Montana Legislature.

“We haven’t had a general election without a citizen initiative on the ballot since 1972,” Secretary McCulloch said.  “That’s the same year voters approved the current Montana Constitution.”

A ballot initiative that would have given communities sweeping powers over oil drilling and other industrial activity was pulled Monday for a lack of supporting signatures, sponsors said.

Initiative 75 would have added the so-called Community Rights Amendment to the state constitution, but to get it on the ballot required 86,105 valid signatures — a rule of thumb is that 125,000 signatures need to be gathered to meet the requirement.

“With just nine weeks to get 125,000 signatures and lacking hundreds of thousands in funding, we knew we faced an uphill battle for 2014,” the sponsors said in a statement. “We took a tally this week and now know that we’re going to be well short of where we need to be.”

Signature gatherers for a series of oil-and-gas ballot initiatives failed to receive state licensing before they began circulating petitions Wednesday.

Although gatherers hit the streets Wednesday morning, their required license from the Colorado Secretary of State was not issued until Thursday morning.

As a result, organizers said they discarded the handful of signatures gathered Wednesday and started fresh Thursday with a valid license in hand.

Read more: here

A California law that requires the sponsors of ballot initiatives to identify themselves on the petitions they circulate to voters violates the constitutional law to speak anonymously, a divided federal appeals court ruled Monday.

“Forced disclosures of this kind are significant encroachments on First Amendment rights,” the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said in a 2-1 decision.

Election laws that prevent elections

Tue, Jun 10 2014 — Source: Reuters

After a half-century in the House of Representatives, Representative John Conyers (D-Mich.), now the second longest serving member of Congress, may be an unsympathetic victim to show how election laws can be unfairly used to keep potential challengers off the ballot.

But recent court rulings on Conyers as well as a New Jersey recall attempt highlight how election laws are frequently designed to benefit those in power — and block potential challengers.

On tomorrow’s statewide primary ballot in North Dakota is Measure 1, a constitutional amendment that would cut 30 days from the signature gathering period, by making the petition deadline 120 days prior to the general election, rather than the current 90 days.

Secretary of State Al Jaeger brought the measure to the legislature in 2013, and a bipartisan majority of legislators jumped at the idea, with 64 percent of Senators and 85 percent in the House voting to put Measure 1 on the ballot.  Jaeger argued the measure will “safeguard the credibility of the petition process.”

In recent weeks, both Illinois and Missouri have seen their signature-submission deadline pass with less than a handful of initiative petitions crossing the finish in time.

On the first of May, Illinois term limits supporters submitted nearly 600,000 signatures. Days later, a measure to reform the redistricting process turned in over 500,000 signatures. Both measures are likely to qualify, as the requirement for a spot on this November’s ballot is only 298,399 valid signatures.

On May 4, Missourians submitted two petitions: one measure would provide six weeks of early voting in the Show-Me State and the other would tie teacher retention and pay to student performance, as measured by standardized testing.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a citizens initiative designed to protect Portland’s parks will be allowed to appear on the June ballot.
In the ongoing dispute between the city and the Friends of Congress Square Park and its Protect Portland Parks subcommittee over the validity of the petition, the state’s highest court decided the citizens initiative is within its rights despite the city’s argument that it dealt with administrative and not legislative matters. The case will now be remanded to the Superior Court and a judge will decide on whether the city will be liable for any of the Friends’ attorney fees.