By Justin  Lin

What do farms, guns, lotteries, electronic data and sales tax all have in common? All five will appear on Missouri’s statewide primary ballots, Aug. 5, as ballot measures.

This primary season features 12 ballot measures in seven states.This primary election season, we see 12 ballot questions by seven states in the primaries throughout the nation. This number is not dramatically different from the number seen in 2012 but is quite a bit fewer than the number in 2010 and 2008, when there were 21 and 19 ballot measures during the primary, respectively.

This year, far and away the state with the most ballot measures on primary ballots is Missouri. These ballot measures include a right-to-farm amendment, a right-to-bear arms amendment, a sales tax to fund infrastructure, the institution of a veterans’ lottery ticket, and a protection of electronic communications against searches by the government. The exact measures are listed at the secretary of state’s website.

All of these ballot measures in Missouri are legislative referendums—measures “referred” to the voters by legislatures. Depending on the laws in the state, legislative referendums may appear on the primary or general election ballot. It should be noted that turnout in primaries is lower than that of general elections. When it comes to Missouri, the governor makes the choice. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D) has slated five for the Aug. 5 primary and three for the general election.

Eleven of the nation’s 12 ballot measures this spring and summer are legislative referendums, with Alaska being the lone state with the popular referendum measure. That measure asks voters to approve or reject an oil and gas tax approved by the Legislature. Unlike legislative referendums, popular referendums begin from petitions filed, circulated for signatures, and submitted by the people.

Many states have already had their primaries. California, North Dakota and Ohio already have voted on their primary ballot measures, and the measures have all passed. NCSL has all the 2014 primary ballot measures in its Ballot Measures Database and will track the results of these as primary elections continue.

Alabama is the next state with a ballot measure, with voters going to the polls on July 15. Voters will decide on an amendment to the constitution regarding cotton. If the measure is approved, cotton growers will no longer be given refunds should they decide not to participate in the assessment program.

Justin Lin is an intern in NCSL’s Elections Program.

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This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.


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