Election 2012: The close calls and why non-votes killed Hawaii’s Amendment 2 & Wyoming’s Amendment C

Alabama’s Local Questions: 2 narrow losses, 1 win

I’ve mentioned before the constitutional quirk in Alabama whereby changes or increases in court filing fees required an amendment in the state’s constitution in many instances, albeit amendments voted on by only the county affected. The 3 items on the ballot in November 2012, all of which would have increased courts fees for various court or law library needs, all failed. In Marion County it was no contest: the proposal failed 46-54. The other two narrowly lost; the Covington County Local Amendment failed 49.58 to 50.42%, a margin of 88 votes. Similarly Etowah County Local Amendment 2 only failed 49.71 to 50.29%, a margin of 51 votes. While it is not clear the legislature will take these matters up again, the narrow losses are interesting.

Hawaii Amendment 2 failed 49.6% to 39.9% with 10.4% not voting

The Amendment would have authorized the use of judges forced into retirement for reassignment/recall in 3-month stretches. However, the state’s constitution requires “a majority of all the votes tallied upon the question, this majority constituting at least fifty per cent of the total vote cast at the election” making a non-vote the equivalent of a no. The breakdown was 216,655 in favor with 174,190 opposed and 45,513 blank votes. If the blanks had gone 5% in favor to 95% against Amendment 2, it would have won 51-49%.

Wyoming Constitutional Amendment C failed 48.99% to 35.32%, 10.52% under votes

Like Hawaii’s Amendment 2, Wyoming’s Amendment C dealt with the “internal mechanics” of the judiciary. In Wyoming’s case, the amendment would have eliminated provision that district court commissioners appointed by the court may act only 1) in the absence of the district judge from the county or 2) where it is improper for the district judge to act. Like in Hawaii, the amendment required a majority of all ballots cast in the election. With 250,701 ballots cast, the amendment needed at least 125,531 but got only 122,824 versus 88.562 against and 26, 419 under votes/non-votes. If the under votes had gone 10% in favor to 90% against Amendment C, it would have won 51-49%.