All posts from “Ballot Measures”

June 13, 2012

North Dakota Rejects Religious Liberty Measure

Measure 3, rejected by two-thirds of voters, would have prohibited the state government from "burdening" religious liberty.

North Dakota voters rejected a controversial measure yesterday that would have added an amendment to the state constitution prohibiting the government from putting a “burden [on] a person’s or religious organization’s religious liberty.” The amendment was defeated by approximately two-thirds, 64 percent to 36 percent.

Known as the Religious Liberty Restoration amendment, supporters of Measure 3 argued it would prevent attacks on religious freedom. The North Dakota Family Alliance, headed by Tom Freier, led the push to put the measure on the ballot.

“This measure would really put in place the protection for North Dakota that would make sure the people are protected, and religious organizations are protected, when and if they do need that protection,” Freier told NPR last week.

But critics argued the amendment could cause unintended problems, included providing a curtain of protection for parents who abuse their children or employers who discriminate based on differences in morals and religious beliefs. Tom Fiebiger, a labor lawyer in Fargo and a former Democratic state senator, told the Christian Science Monitor the measure was too vague.

“On first blush, it looks great, but you pull back the curtain, and you see all the problems,” Fiebiger told the Monitor. “It’s a solution in search of a problem.”

But Christopher Dodson, head of the North Dakota Catholic Conference, countered those arguments. “The measure itself says that it doesn’t affect those acts which the state has a compelling interest in preventing,” he told NPR. “And it’s somewhat irresponsible to even imply that the state doesn’t have an interest in protecting children, women and vulnerable persons.”

The fight over the amendment attracted a lot of outside attention—and outside funds. According to CitizenLink, the group North Dakotans Against Measure 3 raised more than $1 million to fight the measure, with the vast majority of funds coming from out-of-state groups. (CitizenLink said its numbers came from the North Dakota Secretary of State’s site, which only lists gifts greater than $200.) In contrast, Freier told CitizenLink that most of the $150,000 raised in support of the measure came from state residents.

In its report, the Christian Science Monitor noted that while many states have created some sort of religious exemption in health care since the new federal laws were enacted, only Alabama has adopted a constitutional amendment like Measure 3. However, a similar bill is currently sitting in committee in the Kentucky state senate, and a religious freedom amendment was withdrawn from the Colorado ballot last month.

November 5, 2008

How Obama Helped Calif.'s Prop. 8 (Updated)

The folks at National Review aren't sure there was a big jump in turnout, though the Associated Press is quite emphatic that voters went to the polls in epic numbers.

In any case, exit poll data says black turnout in California was way up: From 6 percent of the electorate in 2004 to 10 percent this year. One imagines that this is in large part due to enthusiasm for Obama.

Obama opposed California's Proposition 8 -- though not very strongly. (An enduring question is why he opposed it: Obama said he opposes same-sex marriage but supports civil unions. Proposition 8 deals only with marriage and would allow for civil unions.)

But African-American Californians overwhelmingly supported Prop. 8, by a 7-to-3 margin. Black women (who made up 6% of the electorate) were even more supportive, telling exit pollsters they voted for the measure by a 3-to-1 margin.

Update: I've been playing with math and could use some help from some more math-friendly readers out there. Is is true that if black turnout had been 6 percent rather than 10 percent that the measure would have failed? I did one set of calculations that had Prop. 8 losing by 7,000 votes or so without the bump in African-American turnout, but another set of calculations had the measure still winning by 268,000.

Well, the exit polls aren't really exact enough to do this kind of math anyway.

Meanwhile, The Advocate, a gay magazine, offers another reason why Obama's election may have been bad news for Prop. 8: "No on 8 volunteers fear that with the election all but won for Barack Obama, California Democrats who would have otherwise waited in line after polls closed might be inclined to call it a night -- bad news for Prop. 8."

Update from a reader:

If ALL of the pro-Prop 8 African-Americans stayed home, then it would not have passed.  It would have received 48% of the vote.  But if turnout dropped from 10 to 6 percent for this group, the pro and anti group would have lost voters (assuming that preferences for prop 8 were uncorrelated with turnout, i.e., those who turned out for Obama were not more or less inclined to vote for prop 8).


Yes Votes % Yes
Actual Results 5,163,908 52.0%
With No pro-8 AA voters 4,469,211 48.4%
If No AA's voted 4,469,211 51.0%
If 6% of AA's voted 4,844,347 51.6%

November 5, 2008

As the Country Goes, So Goes California

California completes the trend nationwide: abortion ballot measures lose, marriage measures win.

Both were tight: with 92 percent of the ballots counted, California's parental notification measure failed by less than 500,000 votes (out of nearly 10 million).

Proposition 8, which revokes same-sex marriage, is even tighter, winning by 363,639 votes (a 3.6 point margin). This is going to be a huge story today, since it's the first time that a state has barred same-sex marriage after allowing it.

Not close at all was California's measure regulating livestock confinement, which passed by almost a 2-to-1 margin.

November 4, 2008

Ah, Tolerance

The anti-Proposition 8 folks ended their campaign with a shocking commercial attacking Mormons. Thought a wide variety of religious groups have worked to support Proposition 8 -- which would define marriage as a heterosexual, two-person union -- the support of Mormons was highlighted by opponents. They started a Web site asking people to provide identifying information about Mormons who supported the initiative. And then they developed this ad:

As a piece of propaganda, the piece is fascinating. Note, for
instance, the effeminacy of the LDS missionaries.

Anyway, the Catholic Conference of Bishops has already responded to the ad, calling it "a blatant display of religious bigotry and intolerance." Salt Lake city station KSL ran a piece on the "particularly vicious attack ad" here.

I'd be curious if, like Liddy Dole's "Godless" ad, an ad like this helped or hurt the anti-Prop 8 forces.


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September 23, 2008

Battling in the states

Supporters of California's same-sex marriage ban have raised $17.8 million, compared to opponents, who have raised $12.4 million, the L.A. Times reports.

Dan Morain and Jessica Garrison write that Proposition 8 could be the most expensive measure focused on a social issue, according to Robert Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies and an expert on initiatives.

A separate state -- South Dakota -- is preparing for another abortion battle when voters will be asked on the ballot to outlaw almost all abortions.

U.S. News and World Report
writes that Sarah Palin's candidacy has sparked re-emergence of culture war issues like abortion.

Reporter Jay Tolson writes:

"The Palin pick was seen by many as McCain's way of reigniting the culture war - a limited culture war - while not getting too directly involved in it. In fact, says James Davison Hunter, a sociologist at the University of Virginia and the first scholar to apply the culture-war concept to the American scene, that war had never really gone away but had only moved into the background. The Palin pick, he says, returned it to the foreground, where it now shares the limelight (and headlines) with the economy and the war. But it's not, he believes, the same old battle. 'The lines of the culture war are changing,' he says. 'The gender views, for one, were so much sharper, traditional versus modern. So much has changed in the last 28 years.'"

"Although there is now more enthusiasm for the Republican ticket among religious conservatives, Pew Forum researcher Masci says that evangelicals 'are still up for grabs.'"