After out-of-state groups spent millions of dollars on ballot measure and constitutional amendment campaigns last year, a task force is set to consider proposals Wednesday that could make it harder to pass a measure in South Dakota. Lawmakers, elections officials and ballot campaign insiders on the Initiative and Referendum Task Force have met twice this summer and are set to consider 20 draft bills aimed at reforming the state’s ballot initiative and referendum process. They could bump up the number of voters needed to pass a constitutional amendment, cap the number of amendments that voters can take up on each ballot and set up a board to hold hearings on ballot measures before voters take them up. And they’ll also consider requiring uniform font, changing filings deadlines and shifting some of the information that comes out about proposals before they hit the ballot.
Call it a dream for California political consultants, a nightmare for voters or an electoral extravaganza: The November 2016 ballot could feature a bigger crop of statewide propositions than at any time in the past decade. “The voters pamphlet is going to look like the Encyclopaedia Brittanica,” said Steve Maviglio, a Democratic campaign strategist. The list of measures is very much a work in progress. Most campaigns are still gathering voter signatures or waiting for their proposals to be vetted by state officials. But political strategists have identified at least 15 — perhaps as many as 19 –measures that all have a shot at going before voters next fall. The last time California’s ballot was that long was in November 2004, when there were 16 propositions. The March 2000 ballot had 20.
Want to vote in Barrington Tuesday? Don’t expect to do it on your lunch break. First you have to pick a U.S. senator, member of Congress, governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, general treasurer, two General Assembly members and five local officials. Then turn over the double-sided ballot sheet, the first of two, for seven statewide questions and the beginning of 40 local questions. Phew. “We are concerned about the number of questions,” state Board of Elections Executive Director Robert Kando said. “We asked the Board of Canvassers to send out the questions with a page that they [voters] can mark, tear out and bring with them so they can quickly go through the questions.” “In the 2012 election,” Kando continued, “Providence had a large number of questions and did not send out any voter information with respect to their questions…. [Voters] ended up reading five sides of ballot sheets and it created a backup at the booths.”