DemDaily: Moving Measures in the States

October 10, 2018

Ballot initiatives have become an integral part of our electoral process - as a form of direct democracy and as an avenue for checking legislative powers.

A Ballot Initiative is a means by which a petition signed by a certain minimum number of registered voters can bring about a public vote on a proposed statute or constitutional amendment.

History
The US system of initiatives and referendums originated in Oregon in 1902 as an attempt to expand individual voting rights and the ability to hold legislators accountable. The "Oregon System" spread to other states, and became one of the signature reforms of the Progressive Era, utilized to recall elected officials and stage referendums on controversial new legislation.

Image: Ballotpedia

Major wedge or publicly controversial initiatives are usually held in on-election (even) years when congressional and more electoral seats are up, and when ballot measures can be used to help drive higher voter turnout to the polls.

2018 Initiatives
There are 157 statewide initiatives on the ballot in 38 states November 6th, covering issues from marijuana, election law, taxes, healthcare and energy, to victims' rights, minimum wage and abortion.

Of those, Twenty-six states and DC allow citizen-initiated statutes or amendments, or veto or legislative referenda. Arizona and Florida have commissions with the authority to place statewide measures on the ballot.

 

The Cost
Ballot initiatives have also become a part of the political industry, with full-fledged media and ground campaigns which, for high profile races, may run up to $70 million, depending on the state.

According to Ballotpedia, over $570 million has been raised for or against 2018 measures, including $375 million in expenditures.

Ballot Power: The 26 states that grant their citizens amendment, statute and/or veto referendum power through the initiative process.

2018 Statewide Ballot Measures
State
Constitutional
Statute
Referendum
Issues on the 2018 Ballot
Alaska No Yes Yes Environment
Arizona Yes Yes Yes Pension, Taxes, Energy, Education, Elections
Arkansas Yes Yes Yes Elections, Legislature, Gambling, Minimum Wage
California Yes Yes Yes Bonds, Taxes, Time, Healthcare, Housing, Labor, Animals
Colorado Yes Yes Yes Civil Rights & Constitutional Language, Legislature, Elections & Campaigns, Marijuana, Redistricting, Taxes, Bonds, Property, Education, Transportation, Fracking, Banking
Florida Yes No No Taxes, Gambling, Suffrage, Legislature, Judiciary, Education, Environment, Gov't Admin
Idaho No Yes Yes Gambling, Healthcare
lllinois Yes No No No Measures
Maine No Yes Yes Taxes, Bonds
Maryland No No Yes Gambling and Education, Elections
Massachusetts Yes Yes Yes Healthcare, Campaign Finance, LGBT
Michigan Yes Yes Yes Marijuana, Redistricting, Elections
Mississippi Yes No No No Measures
Missouri Yes Yes Yes Elections, Marijuana, Gambling, Minimum Wage, Taxes
Montana Yes Yes Yes Taxes, Elections, Tobacco, Natural Resources
Nebraska Yes Yes Yes Healthcare
New Mexico No No Yes Judiciary, Gov't Acc, Bonds
Nevada Yes Yes Yes Trials, Taxes, Energy, Elections
North Dakota Yes Yes Yes Elections & Gov't Acc, Suffrage, Marijuana, Civil Service & Parks
Ohio Yes Yes Yes Trials
Oklahoma Yes Yes Yes Business, Law Enforcement, Elections, Budget, Taxes
Oregon Yes Yes Yes Housing, Taxes, Budget, Immigration, Abortion
South Dakota Yes Yes Yes Direct Democracy, Taxes & Tobacco, Elections & Campaigns
Utah No Yes Yes Taxes, Legislature, Marijuana, Healthcare, Redistricting
Washington No Yes Yes Law Enforcement, Taxes & Environment, Food & Agriculture, Firearms, Energy
Wyoming No Yes Yes No Measures

Make change where you can at the ballot box!

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Kimberly Scott
Publisher

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Sources:  Ballotpedia

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