Slavery and indentured servitude on the ballot in five states

Welcome to the Tuesday, October 11, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Five states to decide measures regarding slavery and indentured servitude as criminal punishments
  2. Kemp faces Abrams in rematch for Georgia governor
  3. Explore New Jersey’s general election ballot

Five states to decide measures regarding slavery and indentured servitude as criminal punishments

Voters in five states—Alabama, Louisiana, Oregon, Tennessee, and Vermont—will decide constitutional amendments that would change language in their respective constitutions regarding slavery or indentured servitude as criminal punishments or as payment of debts.

The Thirteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution—ratified in 1865—prohibits slavery and involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for those convicted of crimes. This means states can decide whether to allow or prohibit that exception.

Here’s a quick look at the five measures on the ballot this year:

  • Alabama: ratifies an updated and recompiled state constitution, legislators drafted following voter approval of Amendment 4 in 2020. This proposed recompilation repeals language that provides for involuntary servitude as a criminal punishment.
  • Louisiana: removes language that provides for slavery and involuntary servitude as criminal punishments and replaces it with language prohibiting the practice but with an exception that it “does not apply to the otherwise lawful administration of criminal justice.”
  • Oregon: repeals language provides for slavery or involuntary servitude as criminal punishments.
  • Tennessee: repeals language provides for slavery or involuntary servitude as criminal punishments.
  • Vermont: repeals language saying persons could be held as servants, slaves, or apprentices with their consent or “for the payments of debts, damages, fines, costs, or the like,” and adds language expressly forbidding slavery and indentured servitude in any form. 

These measures, all of which were placed on the ballot by their respective state legislatures, are part of a growing trend that began in 2018 when voters in Colorado approved Amendment A with 66% of the vote. Voters in Nebraska and Utah removed similar language from their constitutions in 2020. 

Rhode Island has had a constitutional ban on slavery since 1843.

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Kemp faces Abrams in rematch for Georgia governor

The general election is 28 days away and we are bringing you stories from some of the battleground races we are following closely between now and Nov. 8. Today, we’re looking at Georgia’s gubernatorial election.

Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and Stacey Abrams (D) are facing off, once again, for Georgia governor. The two ran against each other in 2018 for the then-open office, with Kemp defeating Abrams 50.2% to 48.8%.

Since then, Democrats won three statewide elections in Georgia: 

  • In two U.S. Senate races, Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff defeated incumbent Republicans, receiving 51% of the vote to their opponents’ 49% in separate runoff elections in 2021.
  • In the state’s 2020 presidential vote, President Joe Biden (D) defeated former President Donald Trump (R) 49.5% to 49.3%. Georgia has one of six governorships Republicans are defending in states Biden won in 2020.

Before becoming governor, Kemp served as secretary of state from 2010 to 2019 and in the state Senate from 2003 to 2007. As of Sept. 30, Kemp had raised $35.0 million and had $11.2 million on hand.

Abrams was a member of the state House from 2007 to 2017, becoming House minority leader in 2011. As of Sept. 30, Abrams had raised $46.0 million and had $6.6 million on hand.

An average of five recent polls found Kemp leading Arbams 49% to 45%. An average of 6% of respondents were either undecided or voting for some other candidate.

Two election forecasters rate the election as Lean Republican and one rates it as Tilt Republican.

In 2018, there was one Libertarian candidate on the ballot—Ted Metz—who received 0.9% of the vote. This year, there is one Libertarian on the ballot—Shane Hazel—and two independent candidates running write-in campaigns—David Byrne and Milton Lofton—opening up the possibility of the race continuing into December.

In Georgia, if no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote, the top two finishers advance to a runoff election. Louisiana is the only other state that has a somewhat similar system.

Republicans have controlled the governorship and state Senate in Georgia since 2003. Two years later, Republicans won control of the state House, creating a Republican trifecta that remains in place today.

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Explore New Jersey’s general election ballot

Today is the 31st day of our 50 States in 50 Days series, and we’re featuring New Jersey, the Garden State!

Week One: Pennsylvania, Indiana, South Dakota, Nebraska, North Dakota
Week Two: California, Georgia, Texas, Montana
Week Three: North Carolina, Virginia, New Mexico, Illinois, Idaho
Week Four: Kentucky, Michigan, Arkansas, Minnesota, West Virginia
Week Five: Vermont, Nevada, Wyoming, Arizona, Ohio
Week Six: South Carolina, Iowa, Kansas, Oregon, Tennessee
Week Seven: Colorado

On the ballot in New Jersey

At the federal level, New Jerseyans will elect 12 U.S. Representatives.

New Jersey is one of four states—along with Louisiana, Mississippi, and Virginia—that hold state level elections in odd-numbered years, so no state executive or legislative offices are on the ballot this year.

At the local level, we are covering municipal elections in Trenton, Essex County, and Hudson County, and school board elections in Jersey City.

Redistricting highlights

The number of U.S. House districts in New Jersey remained the same at 12 following the 2020 census.

Congressional elections will take place under new district lines following the census. Our side-by-side map tool allows you to compare each district. Here’s an example of what New Jersey’s congressional map looked like before and after the 2020 census:

You can interact with our map comparison tools by visiting our New Jersey redistricting page here.

Partisan balance

  • Both of New Jersey’s U.S. Senators—Cory Booker and Bob Menendez—are Democrats.
  • Democrats represent 10 U.S. House districts and Republicans represent two.
  • New Jersey has had a Democratic governor since Phil Murphy’s election in 2017.
  • Democrats hold a 23-16 majority in the state Senate and a 46-34 majority in the General Assembly.
  • With a Democratic governor and majorities in both legislative chambers, New Jersey is one of 14 Democratic trifectas, a status it has held since 2018.
  • In addition to the governor, New Jersey has a Democratic attorney general and secretary of state, making it one of 18 states with a Democratic triplex.

Key races

  • New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District: U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski (D) faces Thomas Kean Jr. (R). This is a rematch of the districts’ 2020 race, which Malinowski won with 50.6% of the vote to Kean’s 49.4%. Two election forecasters rate the election as Lean Republican and one rates it as a Toss-up.

Ballot measures

New Jersey voters will not decide any statewide ballot measures on Nov. 8.

In New Jersey, a total of 51 ballot measures appeared on statewide ballots between 1995 and 2021. Forty-six ballot measures were approved, and five ballot measures were defeated.


  • Polls are open on Election Day from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • New Jersey does not require voters to present identification while voting if they presented valid identification while registering. Otherwise, voters must show identification at the polling place. For more information, click here.
  • Early in-person voting begins on Oct. 29 and ends on Nov. 6.
  • All voters may vote by absentee/mail-in ballot. The deadline to request a ballot is Nov. 1. Completed ballots must be postmarked by 8 p.m. on election Day and received by county officials within the following six days. To check the status of your ballot, click here.
  • Voters may register online, in person, or by mail by Oct. 18. For more information, click here.

Want to learn more about the elections you’ll be voting in this year? Click here to use our Sample Ballot Lookup tool! 

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