Referendum Supporters/Opponents May be Subject to Election Laws

September 26, 2012
Dennis Stanley

Those who are supporting or opposing the upcoming retail package store referendum are being reminded today that certain election laws may apply to their activities.

Dennis Stanley, Administrator of Elections, said in general terms that communications such as signs, broadcast and print advertisements must include a disclaimer of who paid for the communication. In addition, he said if two or more persons join forces to support or oppose or an entity such as a church takes a position on a referendum they are subject to the state's campaign finance laws.

"The election commission obviously is not taking a position on the referendum, but just informing those who are that certain state laws may apply to their activities," Stanley said.

"In general terms, the state law which applies to political communications for candidates, also impacts those supporting or opposing a local referendum," Stanley added.

For example, whenever any person "makes an expenditure for the purpose of financing a communication that expressly advocates the election or defeat of" a candidate or referendum question "or that solicits any contributions
through any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine outdoor advertising facility, poster, yard sign, direct mailing or any other form of general public political advertising, a disclaimer..shall appear and be presented in a clear and conspicuous manner to give the reader, observer or listener adequate notice of the identity of persons who paid for" the

Those who fail to follow the law are subject to a complaint being filed with the District Attorney General's office.

As for filing campaign expense forms, Stanley said "reports of appointment of treasurers and disclosure of contributions and expenditures are required of : (1) a group of two or more individuals making expenditures
to support or oppose any state or local measure in a referendum, (2) a corporation or any other organization making expenditures to support or oppose any state or local referendum, (3) any committee, club, association
or group of persons receiving contributions or making expenditures totaling more than $250 in a calendar year to support or oppose any state or local measure in a referendum."

Those who fail to follow this law could be subject to civil penalties.

Questions regarding either the advertising disclosure law or campaign finance disclosure law can be directed to the local election office at 597-4146.

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