State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Tag: petitions

Has your Michigan signature expired?

By: Simon Zagata

What do milk, eggs, yogurt, chicken and your signature on a petition have in common? As of June 6, 2016, they all have expiration dates; at least in Michigan.

In the U.S., 24 states and the District of Columbia allow citizens to introduce new laws through petitions. In Michigan, citizens can propose new state laws or constitutional amendments through petitions, if they get enough signatures. Once the petition has enough signatures, the proposed ballot measure goes to the legislature. If the legislature does not pass the proposed law within 40 days, the statute goes on the ballot, and voters get to decide its fate. If the ballot measure receives a majority of “yes” votes, it becomes law.
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Ballot Initiatives for Marijuana Legalization Track Public Opinion

By Hannah Whiteker

Fans of direct democracy should be excited about the increased use of state ballot initiatives to legalize marijuana use. Direct democracy  allows citizens to enact and change laws, instead of electing representatives to make important decisions for them. One of the ways that the United States utilizes direct democracy is through state ballot initiatives. If a group of voters wants to get an initiative on the ballot to pass a law in their state (there is no initiative process for federal elections), the group must first get enough voters to sign a petition supporting the initiative. The number of signatures required varies by state. If the group satisfies the signature requirement, the initiative is put on the ballot for the next statewide election to be voted on by the people.

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I Know What You Did Last Summer: Signed a Petition in Washington

Last year, female Facebook users around the world updated their status messages with their bra color.  Version 2.0 of this breast cancer awareness marketing strategy ran this year.  Perhaps some things should be kept private.  But what about our politics?  As vast amounts of information goes digital – from individual campaign contributions to the personal communications of our officials – traditional notions of privacy are giving way to an era of sunshine in all aspects of our lives.

Enter (from stage right) Tim Eyman, a veteran ballot initiative activist in the state of Washington.  If state-wide ballot initiatives create a de facto citizen legislature, then Eyman is the conservative Washington citizen’s whip.  To get an idea on the ballot, initiative supporters must sign petitions, and give such information as their home addresses to verify they’re eligible to sign. Continue reading

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