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Three referendums officially on ballot, more than 74K signatures on each in final count

Official certificates were issued by the Idaho Secretary of State's office today placing three referendums on the November 2012 ballot to give Idaho voters a say on whether to repeal the three major education reform bills enacted by the Legislature this year. In the final count, SB 1108, the bill removing most collective bargaining rights from teachers, got 74,024 signatures, and will be Proposition 1 in November; SB 1110, the bill setting up a merit-pay bonus system, got 74,129 signatures and will be Proposition 2 on the November ballot; and SB 1184, the bill shifting funds from teacher salaries to technology, got 74,922 signatures and will be Proposition 3.

“All three referendums exceed the number of signatures required,” wrote Chief Deputy Secretary of State Tim Hurst in a letter to Mike Lanza, head of Idahoans for Responsible Education Reform, in a letter dated today. The signed petitions were delivered to the Secretary of State's office last week in 125 boxes.

Incidentally, I had been using “referenda” to describe the three measures, and was surprised to see my newspaper use “referendums” as the plural, prompting me to look it up. My dictionary says either is acceptable, but the AP stylebook, without explanation, prefers “referendums.” The personal blog of Lord Norton of Louth, a professor of government at the University of Hulls who sits in the British House of Lords, notes, “Referendum is one of those rare gerunds for which there is no plural in Latin. I quote from footnote 1 in David Butler and Austin Ranney’s, Referendums Around the World: ‘We speak of referendums, not referenda, on the advice of the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary: 'Referendum is logically preferable as a plural form meaning ballots on one issue (as a Latin gerund referendum has no plural).  The Latin plural gerundive referenda, meaning ‘things to be referred’, necessarily connotes a plurality of issues.’ ” So I'll call them referendums.


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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