Understanding 2022's Ballot Measures
Our guide and recommendations for this year's slate of ballot measures
This November, voters could be presented with as many as eleven ballot measures. The majority of those (seven out of eleven) are explicitly about the democratic process, and four of those are specifically about how ballot measures work. Many of these can seem dry or technical, but the consequences for both electoral and direct democracy in Arizona would be far reaching and profound. If we want to make sure that the reversal of key Supreme Court decisions can’t undermine LGBTQ+ and reproductive rights in Arizona, we’re going to have to rely on ballot measures to amend the state constitution – whether to remove homophobic sections like Article 30, or to introduce new safeguards.
Ballot measures can be sent to the ballot by the legislature or through a citizen initiative process. Initiatives require extensive signature gathering and are subject to judicial review, which can end up keeping a ballot measure off the ballot altogether, even if it got enough signatures to qualify. Of the three citizen initiatives this year, two have qualified for the ballot so far, and the third seems increasingly likely to qualify. We’re including all three in this guide, but there’s a possibility that one measure, “Arizonans for Free and Fair Elections,” might not end up on the ballot this Fall [Update, 5:41 PM, August 26. Arizonans for Free and Fair Elections did not qualify for the ballot]. All of the rest originated in the Legislature. Not all of these are in our area of expertise as an organization or have an obvious answer, so we haven’t taken a position on every ballot measure, but you can find many arguments for and against each one on the Secretary of State website.
Prop 128 – Against
A constitutional amendment that originated in the legislature as SCR 1034, this proposition would give the legislature more power to disregard or contradict citizen initiatives. Currently, the legislature is only allowed to pass legislation that would supersede a citizen initiative if they can demonstrate that it furthers the purpose of the original measure, and even then, only by a three-quarters majority vote in each chamber. By adding the short qualifier, “unless the measure is found to contain illegal or unconstitutional language by the Arizona supreme court or United States supreme court,” Prop 128 would allow the legislature to pass – by a simple majority vote – legislation that directly contradicts any part of a citizen initiative if even just one portion of the initiative is found to be unconstitutional.
Prop 129 – Against
A constitutional amendment that originated in the legislature as HCR 2001, this proposition would create a “single subject rule” for citizen initiatives. Under this rule, citizen initiatives would have to choose a title to perfectly encapsulate its policy goals, and while this could theoretically simplify the decision for a voter, it would also make it less likely for citizen initiatives to end up on the ballot in the first place. By narrowing the potential scope for any initiative, Arizona citizens would have to run far more initiatives to achieve the same goals, dramatically multiplying the number of signatures to gather and the already monumental costs associated with that process. Each item would then have to go through a separate review process, which the “single subject rule” would render an almost entirely subjective judicial decision.
Prop 130 – No Opinion
A constitutional amendment that originated in the legislature as SCR 1011, this proposition would update and consolidate property tax exemptions in Arizona state law.
Prop 131 – No Opinion
A constitutional amendment that originated in the legislature as SCR 1024, this proposition would create a new Lieutenant Governor position, which would be elected on a joint ticket with the Governor. The Lieutenant Governor would supersede the Secretary of State in succession, so that in the event of a Governor’s departure from office, the office would be filled by someone elected on the same ticket, and from the same political party.
Prop 132 – Against
A constitutional amendment that originated in the legislature as HCR 2015, this proposition would move the goalposts for citizen initiatives to pass, from a simple majority vote to a 60% threshold if the initiative introduces a tax. This would align with a similar restriction in the legislature, where tax cuts can be passed with only a simple majority, but a supermajority vote is required to pass any new taxes. [Update: an earlier version of this guide incorrectly stated the legislature’s limitation.] Because many initiatives need to establish a revenue source to implement their policies, this would pose a major obstacle for direct democracy.
Prop 209 – Yes
A citizen initiative titled the Predatory Debt Collection Protection act, Prop 209 would “reduce maximum interest rates on medical debt from 10% to 3% annually” and “increase the amount of certain assets exempt from debt collection.” This is of clear benefit for the LGBTQ+ community, which is underserved by the healthcare system, underemployed, and carries more debt proportionately than the general population.
Prop 211 – Yes
Link: Read the Full Measure
Prop 211, the Voters’ Right to Know Act, is a citizen initiative that would bring voters increased transparency into political spending. While political candidates are already required to disclose the source of donations to their campaigns, independent expenditures run by corporations or nonprofits (like Equality Arizona, and all across the political spectrum) are not. This measure would introduce new disclosure requirements for independent expenditures to level the playing field, and while it’s not entirely possible to predict the long term effects it would have on Arizona politics, we know that notable opponents to the measure, like the anti-LGBTQ+ Center for Arizona Policy, have long been able to exert pressure on politicians through the kind of dark money campaigns this measure would address.
Arizonans for Free and Fair Elections – yes
Link: Read the Full Measure
The fate of this citizen initiative remains murky, but if it does appear on the ballot this Fall, voters will be presented with a monumental opportunity to advance the state of democracy in Arizona. [Update, 5:41 PM, August 26. Arizonans for Free and Fair Elections did not qualify for the ballot] The Arizonans for Free and Fair Elections act would advance accessibility to the ballot with automatic voter registration and same-day voter registration, and would roll back recent attacks on the electoral process by reinstituting tried-and-true systems like the Permanent Early Voter List. The measure would also reign in the judicial review process for citizen initiatives to reach the ballot, limiting potential challenges only to the authenticity of signatures.
Prop 308 – yes
This proposition, referred to the ballot by the legislature, would allow all in-state students to be eligible for in-state tuition, regardless of immigration status. This would not only benefit undocumented LGBTQ+ Arizona residents, but by widening the umbrella of inclusion in our state, would benefit our entire LGBTQ+ community and all marginalized communities.
Prop 309 – against
This proposition, referred to the ballot by the legislature, would add further restrictions to our voter ID laws for in-person voting and introduce barriers to voting by mail. Prop 309 would remove the option Arizona voters currently have to present two alternative documents to vote when they do not have a photo ID, increasing the likelihood that transgender voters could be turned away from the polls or face discrimination when voting. Prop 309 also introduces a new affidavit that voters would be required to submit with their mail-in ballots, an unnecessary complication that would almost certainly disqualify many valid ballots.
Prop 310 – yes
This proposition, referred to the ballot by the legislature, would create a small tax to fund fire districts across the state. Like fire departments in cities and towns, fire districts provide critical emergency response services in rural areas. LGBTQ+ people exist in every community in our state, and deserve equal service regardless of where they live.