The State and Local Tap: This week’s state and local election highlights

Ballot Measures Update

Nov. 2 review

Voters in six states decided 24 statewide ballot measures on Nov. 2. Fourteen measures were approved, and 10 were defeated. Four of the measures were citizen initiatives, three were advisory questions about taxes in Washington, one was a bond issue for transportation, and the remaining 16 are legislatively referred constitutional amendments.

  • Colorado voters defeated three citizen initiatives, including one to increase marijuana taxes and create an out-of-school education program.
  • Maine voters approved three measures:
    • a citizen initiative to prohibit the construction of certain electric transmission lines, including the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC);
      • The campaigns supporting and opposing the initiative have raised $94 million combined, making the measure’s campaigns the most expensive of 2021 and the most expensive in Maine history.
    • a bond issue; and 
    • a legislatively referred constitutional amendment to create a right to produce, harvest, and consume food.
  • New Jersey voters decided two constitutional amendments. An amendment expanding college sports betting was defeated, and an amendment concerning raffles was approved.
  • New York voters decided five constitutional amendments concerning redistricting, environmental rights, voting policies, and the NYC Civil Court. They approved the amendments on environmental rights and the NYC Civil Court, and defeated the others.
  • Texas voters approved all eight constitutional amendments on their ballots, including two that were responses to COVID-19 regulations. 
    • Proposition 3 prohibits the state or any political subdivision from enacting a law, rule, order, or proclamation that limits religious services or organizations.
    • Proposition 6 gives residents of nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, or state-supported living centers a right to designate an essential caregiver that may not be prohibited from visiting the resident.
  • A majority of Washington voters chose “repeal” on three advisory questions on taxes recently passed by the legislature.

Click here to see election results.

A total of 39 statewide ballot measures were certified for the 2021 ballot in nine states.

  • Twenty-four measures were certified for the Nov. 2 ballot. Fourteen were approved, and 10 were defeated.
  • Four measures have been certified for the Nov. 13 ballot.
  • Four measures were on the ballot on May 18 in Pennsylvania. They were approved.
  • Seven bond measures were on the ballot on March 2 in Rhode Island. They were approved.

2022 ballot measures

Sixty-one statewide measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot in 29 states so far.

  • No new measures were certified for the ballot last week.

States in session

Seven state legislatures—Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—are in regular session.

Local Ballot Measures: The Week in Review

In 2021, Ballotpedia is providing comprehensive coverage of elections in America’s 100 largest cities by population and all state capitals. This encompasses every office on the ballot in these cities, including their municipal elections, trial court elections, school board elections, and local ballot measures. Ballotpedia also covers all local recall elections, as well as all local ballot measures in California and a selection of notable local ballot measures about elections and police-related policies. Recent and upcoming local ballot measure elections are listed below:

  • Ballotpedia covered 156 local ballot measures on the Nov. 2 ballot in 18 states. At least 95 were approved, at least 36 were defeated, and the remaining 25 were too close to call as of Nov. 5.
    • Arizona – Voters in Chandler, Gilbert, Scottsdale, and Tucson decided on 11 local ballot measures.
    • California – Voters in 18 different cities, school districts, and special districts in 11 different California counties decided 19 local ballot measures.
    • Colorado – Ballotpedia covered 21 local ballot measures in Colorado for voters in three cities, two counties, and two school districts.
    • Florida – Ballotpedia covered one measure in Miami and eight measures in St. Petersburg.
    • Georgia – Ballotpedia covered two local ballot measures in Georgia for voters in one city school district and one county.
    • Idaho – Ballotpedia covered two local ballot measures in Idaho for voters in one city and one school district.
    • Maryland – Ballotpedia covered one local ballot measure: a measure in the city of Greenbelt that would create a 21-member commission to review, discuss, and make recommendations on local reparations for African American and Native American residents of Greenbelt. 
    • Massachusetts – Ballotpedia covered three local ballot measures in Boston.
    • Michigan – Ballotpedia covered four local ballot measures in Detroit and Ann Arbor.
    • Minnesota – Ballotpedia covered four local ballot measures in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
    • New Mexico – Voters in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and the public school districts of the two cities decided 16 local ballot measures.
    • New York – Voters in Albany decided two local ballot measures
    • Ohio – Voters in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo, Hamilton County, and Lucas County decided 10 local ballot measures.
    • Pennsylvania – Voters in Philadelphia decided four charter amendments.
    • Texas – Ballotpedia covered 28 measures in two cities, two counties, and 11 school districts.
    • Virginia – Ballotpedia covered two local ballot measures in Richmond and Virginia Beach.
    • Washington – Voters in King County decided two local ballot measures.
    • Wyoming – Voters in Laramie County decided 14 local ballot measures.

Below are some of the notable local measures on Nov. 2:

  • Voters in Austin, Texas, defeated an initiative to establish minimum police staffing requirements resulting in the city having to hire additional police officers. The initiative was also designed to require additional police officer training and create certain police hiring guidelines and incentives.
  • Voters in Minneapolis, Minnesota, defeated an initiative to replace the city police department with a department of public safety.
  • Voters in Cleveland, Ohio, approved an initiative to make changes related to police oversight, discipline, and policies.
  • Voters in Albany, New York, approved a measure to give the existing Community Police Review Board more authority over investigation and oversight over complaints against police.
  • Voters in Detroit, Michigan, approved a measure to create a city reparations committee tasked with making recommendations for housing and economic development programs for Black Detroit residents.
  • Voters in Tucson, Arizona, approved a $15 per hour minimum wage initiative.
  • Voters in Broomfield, Colorado; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Westbrook, Maine, decided measures to enact ranked-choice voting. The Ann Arbor and Westbrook measures were approved. The Broomfield measure was ahead but too close to call as of Nov. 5.

Special Elections

Sixty-six state legislative special elections have been scheduled in 21 states so far this year. Fifty-eight specials have taken place already. Heading into those races, Democrats had previously controlled 29 of the seats, and Republicans previously controlled 29. Three seats flipped from Democratic control to Republican control, and two seats flipped from Republican control to Democratic control.

  • In special elections between 2011 and 2020, one party (either Republicans or Democrats) saw an average net gain of four seats nationally each year.
  • An average of 57 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past six even years (2010: 30, 2012: 46, 2014: 40, 2016: 65, 2018: 99, 2020: 59).
  • An average of 88 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past five odd years (2011: 94, 2013: 84, 2015: 89, 2017: 98, 2019: 77).

Upcoming special elections include:

Nov. 13

Nov. 30

Glenn Youngkin (R) wins Virginia governorship

Glenn Youngkin (R) defeated former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) in the general election for governor of Virginia on Nov. 2, becoming the first Republican to win a statewide election in the state since 2009. Incumbent Gov. Ralph Northam (D) was unable to seek re-election due to term limits.

Youngkin’s victory switched Virginia to a split government after two years as a Democratic trifecta.

Youngkin is a former co-CEO and president of The Carlyle Group, a global investment firm, where he worked from 1995 to 2020. In a Candidate Connection survey submitted to Ballotpedia, Youngkin said, “We need a governor with real-world experience who can create jobs, keep businesses from leaving, put an open-for-business sign on Virginia, and create a rip-roaring economy that lifts all Virginians.” Read his full survey responses here

In more recent messaging, Youngkin released campaign advertisements addressing the teaching of race in education and the topic of critical race theory, saying McAuliffe would change Virginia’s public school curriculum if elected.

Princess Blanding (Liberation) and Paul Davis (I) also ran in the election. Blanding appeared on the general election ballot. Davis ran as a write-in candidate.

At the time of the election, Democrats had won four of the five most recent gubernatorial elections and all thirteen statewide elections in Virginia since 2012. Joe Biden (D) won the state in the 2020 presidential election, receiving 54% of the vote to Donald Trump‘s (R) 44%.

Phil Murphy (D) becomes the first Democrat to win re-election as governor of New Jersey since 1977

Incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy (D) defeated former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R), becoming the first Democrat to win re-election as governor of New Jersey since 1977.

As of 3:00 p.m. ET on Nov. 5, Murphy led Ciattarelli by a margin of 44,281 votes or 1.8 percentage points. If this margin holds, it will be 12 percentage points narrower than Murphy’s initial election in 2017. The results may also be subject to a recount. In New Jersey, any candidate can request a recount within 17 days of the election.

Charles Stile of called the election a “race to the bottom” in a September 2021 article, citing Murphy and Ciattarelli’s negative attacks targeting the other. Murphy used campaign ads and events to portray Ciattarelli as out of touch with the state’s electorate and wanting to introduce former President Donald Trump‘s (R) agenda to the state. Ciattarelli highlighted issues such as taxes and the handling of sexual abuse allegations to frame Murphy as an elected official who does not understand the needs of average New Jerseyites.

Murphy’s win preserves New Jersey’s Democratic trifecta, as well as its Democratic triplex. A win for Ciattarelli would have broken New Jersey’s Democratic trifecta and replaced the state’s Democratic triplex with a Republican triplex.

In New Jersey, gubernatorial and lieutenant gubernatorial candidates run together on joint tickets. Along with Murphy, incumbent Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver (D) was re-elected.

Democrats lose majority in VA House

All 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates were up for election on Nov. 2. As of 4:30 p.m. E.T. on Thursday, 50 races had been called for Republican candidates with four races outstanding. This meant that the control of the chamber would at least be split between Republicans and Democrats, and any of the four remaining seats being called for Republicans would lead to a Republican majority.

Heading into the election, Democrats held a 55-seat majority to Republicans’ 45 seats. This was the first election cycle since 1999 with Democrats defending a majority in the House. Democrats won control in the 2019 elections after Republicans had controlled the chamber since 2000.

Ballotpedia identified 25 of the races as battlegrounds, meaning these races had the potential to be more competitive than other races and could possibly lead to shifts in a chamber’s partisan balance. Prior to the election, Democrats held 19 of the battleground districts and Republicans held six. Of the 21 battleground races that have been called, five changed from Democratic to Republican control.

In the event of a tied chamber, the House would vote on a power-sharing agreement and the Clerk of the House would preside over the vote for a speaker. Any tie vote in the chamber would reject any agreement, speaker, or legislation. In 1998, the chamber was split 50-50. Delegates adopted a power-sharing agreement by a 90-2 vote. This agreement left a Democrat as speaker but required the speaker to consult Republican leadership for committee assignments and committee membership was expanded. Committees had co-chairs from each party that rotated chair duties.

Minneapolis mayor wins re-election

Incumbent Jacob Frey (D) defeated 16 other candidates to win re-election as mayor of Minneapolis. 

Voters could rank up to three candidates on the ballot under Minneapolis’ ranked-choice voting system. If no candidate won more than 50% of the first-choice vote, candidates who were mathematically unable to win were eliminated and their voters’ votes redistributed to their second, then third choice. 

Frey defeated Kate Knuth (D) 56.2% to 43.8% in the second round of vote tallying. Sheila Nezhad (D) and AJ Awed (D) won 21.1% and 4.7%, respectively, of the first round vote. 

Frey was first elected in 2017. Among the major issues in the race, which took place the year after a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd, was the city’s approach to policing. Frey opposed and Knuth supported Question 2, a proposed charter amendment that would have replaced the city police department with a department of public health. Voters rejected Question 2, also by a 56.2% to 43.8% margin.

Minneapolis last elected a Republican mayor in 1957. The last Republican mayor to hold office was Richard Erdall (R), who became acting mayor for one day on December 31, 1973.

Michelle Wu elected mayor of Boston

Michelle Wu defeated Annissa Essaibi George in Boston’s nonpartisan mayoral election. Both Wu and Essaibi George are at-large city councilors, and both received endorsements from Democrats and groups that typically back Democrats.

Media outlets described Wu as the more progressive candidate and Essaibi George as the more moderate one.

Acting Mayor Kim Janey, who placed fourth in the Sept. 14 primary, endorsed Wu in the general election.

The Boston Globe’s Laura Crimaldi wrote, “Although census figures show about 65 percent of city residents identify as people of color, the upcoming election will be the first in Boston history that won’t result in a white man becoming mayor.” Wu’s parents immigrated from Taiwan, while Essaibi George is the daughter of Polish and Tunisian immigrants.

Teachers’ union-backed slate wins Jersey City Public Schools elections

Paula Jones, Younass Mohamed Barkouch, and Natalia Ioffe won election to the Jersey City Public Schools school board in New Jersey.

The three ran with the endorsement of the New Jersey Education Association, the local teachers’ union, on the Education Matters slate.

All three candidates were running for open seats held by outgoing incumbents Mussab Ali, Marilyn Roman, and Joan Terrell-Paige, each of whom was last elected in 2018 on the Education Matters slate.

Their win means candidates elected on the Education Matters slate will maintain a 7-2 majority on the board.

California Supreme Court Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar resigns

California Supreme Court Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar resigned on Oct. 31 to become president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank in Washington, D.C. Former Gov. Jerry Brown (D) appointed Cuéllar to the state supreme court in July 2014, and voters retained him in November 2014 with 68% of the vote. 

When there is a midterm vacancy on the California Supreme Court, the governor is responsible for appointing a replacement. To remain in office, the new appointee must stand for retention in an election occurring at the time of the next gubernatorial race, which is held every four years. After that, the judge is subject to a retention election every 12 years.

Democratic governors appointed four of the six active California Supreme Court justices; Republican governors appointed the other two justices. Cuéllar’s replacement will be Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) second appointee to the state supreme court.

Redistricting updates


Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed congressional and legislative map proposals into law on Nov. 4. The Senate map was approved by state senators approved on Nov. 1 with a 25-7 vote, and by state representatives on Nov. 3 with a 76-26 vote. The House map was approved by representatives 68-35 on Nov. 1 and senators followed on Nov. 3 with a 22-7 vote. Additionally, Ivey signed new board of education maps into law, which passed the Alabama State Senate and Alabama House of Representatives on Nov. 1 and Nov. 3, respectively. The House voted 65-38 in favor of the congressional map on Nov. 1 followed by the Senate voting 22-7 on Nov. 3.

North Carolina

The North Carolina General Assembly enacted congressional and legislative redistricting proposals on Nov. 4. Governors do not have veto power over new maps in North Carolina, so they became law without Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) signature. The House map passed the North Carolina House of Representatives 67-49 on Nov. 2, and the North Carolina State Senate 25-21 on Nov. 4. The Senate map passed 26-19 in the Senate on Nov. 3 and 65-49 in the House on Nov. 4. The congressional map was approved by the Senate 27-22 on Nov. 2, and the House 65-49 on Nov. 4. 


On Nov. 3, the Wisconsin People’s Maps Commission, a redistricting commission established by Gov. Tony Evers, released its final proposed state legislative and congressional maps. Evers signed an executive order creating the commission on Jan. 27, 2020, to prepare congressional and state legislative district plans for consideration by the state legislature.

The maps narrow Republican’s state legislative and congressional majorities in the state compared to the proposals introduced by Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R) and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) last month, which Evers said he would not sign. “Wisconsinites won’t stand for gerrymandering 2.0 and neither will I, so I want to be clear today if the Republican maps come to my desk as they are currently drafted I will veto them,” Evers said.

Two lawsuits, one state and one federal, have been filed asking the courts to assume authority for redistricting if Evers and the state legislature do not agree on new maps.