Voters ponder fate of several ballot questions

Arizonans are starting to evaluate initiatives likely to be on the November ballot and are showing strong support for some and uncertainty for others, according to a Grand Canyon State Poll conducted by the Social Research Laboratory at Northern Arizona University.

Four initiatives with widespread support include raising the state minimum wage, regulating the treatment of confined farm animals, funding children’s health programs and prohibiting smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces.

Three additional ballot measures facing a more uncertain future include defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman, requiring elections to be conducted almost entirely by mail, and amending the state Constitution to change the title of secretary of state to lieutenant governor.

“Four of these initiatives are starting out on solid footing with strong support from registered voters,” saidĀ Fred Solop, survey director and political science professor at NAU. “But the public is very conflicted over the measure amending the state Constitution to define what constitutes marriage, because it could prevent domestic partners of government workers from receiving benefit coverage.”

Eighty-one percent of survey respondents say they support an initiative that would raise the minimum wage in Arizona. Sixty-two percent say they “strongly support” this initiative while 19 percent “somewhat support” this initiative, known as the Raise the Minimum Wage for Working Arizonans Act. Currently, the minimum wage in Arizona is $5.15 per hour. If passed, the Arizona minimum wage would rise to $6.75 per hour in 2007. A cost-of-living adjustment would increase the minimum wage each year following.

Arizonans also expressed strong support for an initiative mandating better treatment of confined farm animals. Currently, most industrial farms house veal calves and pregnant pigs in confining crates. Seventy-eight percent of registered voters said they would vote for an initiative requiring veal calves and pregnant pigs to be given enough room to turn around and lie down in their pens. The Humane Treatment of Farm Animals Act is strongly supported by 57 percent of registered voters and somewhat supported by 21 percent of voters.

Initiatives facing uncertain futures include Protect Marriage Arizona, which would amend the Arizona constitution to define marriage as a union only between one man and one woman and would prohibit benefits to domestic partners of government workers, including heterosexual and homosexual, in the state. Fifty two percent of registered voters support this initiative and 40 percent oppose it. Survey respondents register very strong attitudes toward this initiative with 39 percent strongly supporting the initiative and 31 percent strongly opposing it.

Registered voters in Arizona are also conflicted about an initiative known as Your Right to Vote. This initiative would require elections in Arizona to be conducted primarily by mail. Every voter would receive a ballot in the mail and only a small number of polling places would be kept open. Forty-six percent of registered voters support this initiative and 47 percent oppose it.

Another measure that may appear on the ballot would amend the Arizona Constitution to change the title of Arizona secretary of state to lieutenant governor. This measure is supported by 45 percent of registered voters and opposed by 25 percent. Thirty percent of registered voters say they don’t know much about this initiative.

The Grand Canyon State Poll was conducted between March 3 and 7 with 527 randomly selected registered voters living in Arizona and Arizonans saying they will register before the next election. Survey results are valid at a +/- 4.3 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level.

To view the complete press release onlineĀ click here.