We all know it’s hard to get a proposal on the ballot under Utah’s citizen initiative laws. If you want to make a law using the initiative process, you’d better have at least $1 million to get your proposal on the ballot, plus at least another million bucks to run the campaign after achieving ballot status.

But how does Utah’s ballot law compare with other states? Do we have the toughest citizen initiative process in the country?

We probably have 2nd most difficult process. Wyoming may be tougher.

Idaho legislators are considering making Idaho’s initiative law tougher, more like Utah’s. So, Idaho Falls attorney and writer Steve Taggart did some research to compare initiative laws around the country.

Only five states, including Utah, require signatures totaling 10 percent or more of votes cast in the last election (or some variation thereof). Of those, Wyoming requires 15 percent in two-thirds of its counties. That’s pretty tough.

But of the four requiring 10 percent, Utah has by far the most difficult geographic distribution requirements for signature gathering. And Utah also allows initiative opponents to remove signatures after they have been gathered. Taggart didn’t look at removing signatures in his research, but it’s doubtful many states allow signature removal.   

It’s safe to say Utah has the second-toughest, or maybe the toughest (if removal provisions are considered) requirements in the nation for citizens to make a law (among states that allow initiatives).

Here are the requirements Taggart found in the states that allow citizens to make laws via ballot proposals.  

 

State

Signature Requirements

Alaska

10% of votes cast last general election with at least 7% in 3/4ths of state house districts

Arizona

10% of votes cast in last race for governor

Arkansas

8% of votes cast in last race for governor with at least 4% in 15 of 75 counties

California

5% of votes cast in last race for governor

Colorado

5% of votes cast in last race for secretary of state

Idaho

6% of votes cast in last general election with that number in 18 of 35 legislative districts

Maine

10% of votes cast in last race for governor

Massachusetts

3.5% of votes cast in last race for governor

Michigan

8% of votes cast in last race for governor

Missouri

5% of votes cast in last race for governor in 2/3 of congressional districts

Montana

5% of votes cast in last race for governor in all legislative districts

Nebraska

7% of registered voters with 5% of registered voters in 40% of counties

Nevada

10% of votes cast last general election in all congressional districts

North Dakota

2% of the state population

Ohio

6% of votes cast in last race for governor with 3% in half of counties

Oklahoma

8% of votes cast in last race for governor

Oregon

6% of votes cast in last race for governor

South Dakota

5% of votes cast in last race for governor

Utah

10% of votes cast in last race for president with number met in 26 of 29 legislative district

Washington

8% of votes cast last race for president

Wyoming

15% of votes cast in last general in 2/3 of counties