Voters nationwide weigh in on First Amendment issues

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Across the United States, 201 initiatives appeared on ballots during the 2006 midterm elections. The second highest number of initiatives in the last century, the measures regarded a number of controversial issues. Here is a sample of those with First Amendment implications.

Seventy-four percent of voters in Arizona approved making English the official state language. The more than 550,000-vote margin supported House Concurrent Resolution 2036, which would also reduce government funding for materials printed in more than one language. This was one of four immigration-related initiatives passed in Arizona on Nov.7.

    Yes — 846,829 (74%)

    No — 295, 049 (26%)

Proposition 89, nicknamed the “California Clean Money and Fair Elections Act,” would have given candidates for state office public financing for campaigns from a $200 million tax increase on corporations. Over 75% of voters voted against this initiative, which was sponsored by the California Nurses Association.

    No — 4,939,365 (76.85%)

    Yes — 1,487,643 (23.15%)

Amendment 40 would have set a 10-year term limit for state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals judges. The initiative was defeated by less than 200,000 votes.

    No — 763,898 (56.88%)

    Yes — 579,066 (43.12%)

Colorado voters passed the “Ethics in Government” proposal, Amendment 41, with 62% of the vote. The constitutional amendment will prohibit public officials from accepting gifts worth more than $50. Aimed at limiting the impact of lobbyists, the amendment will also prevent former state officials from lobbying for two years after leaving office.

    Yes — 831,169 (62.32%)

    No — 502,543 (37.68%)

Measure 45 would have limited state legislative terms to six years in the House of Representatives and eight years in the Senate. Voters rejected the measure with 58% of the vote.

    No — 571,180 (58.6%)

    Yes — 404,219 (41.4%)

Voters in Seattle struck down a city ordinance banning lap dances in strip clubs. Referendum No. 1, which also required dancers to stay 4 feet away from patrons and prohibited direct tipping, was rejected.

    No — 104,704 (62.81%)

    Yes — 62,008 (37.19%)

Melanie Bengtson is an intern at the First Amendment Center and a sophomore studying developmental politics at Belmont University.

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