Ballotpedia presents the top 15 ballot measures to watch

Welcome to the Wednesday, October 12, Brew. 

By: David Luchs

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

  1. Ballotpedia presents the top 15 ballot measures to watch
  2. Roundup of recent vacancies on state supreme courts
  3. Washington holding special election for secretary of state

Ballotpedia presents the top 15 ballot measures to watch

Voters in 36 states will decide on 129 statewide ballot measures at the general election. This year’s ballot measures address issues like abortion, marijuana, voting policies, firearms, sports betting, and state constitutional rights.

We’ve compiled a list of 15 statewide ballot measures to watch on Nov. 8, 2022. Members of Ballotpedia’s editorial department selected these measures based on their relation to wider policy debates, topic trends, campaign finance records, and unique situations. You can view summaries of each measure here. The list order is based on topics or similar issues.

  1. Michigan Proposal 3: Right to Abortion, Contraceptives, and Pregnancy-Related Decisions Initiative
  2. Kentucky Amendment 2: No State Constitutional Right to Abortion Amendment
  3. California Proposition 26: Legalize Sports Betting on American Indian Lands Initiative
  4. California Proposition 27: Legalize Sports Betting and Revenue for Homelessness Fund Initiative
  5. Nevada Question 3: Top-Five Ranked Choice Voting Initiative
  6. Michigan Proposal 2: Voting Policies in Constitution Amendment
  7. Massachusetts Question 4: Remove Proof of Citizenship or Immigration Status for Driver’s License Applications Referendum
  8. Missouri Amendment 3: Marijuana Legalization Initiative
  9. Colorado Proposition 122: Decriminalization and Access Program for Certain Psychedelic Plants and Fungi Initiative
  10. California Proposition 31: Flavored Tobacco Products Ban Referendum
  11. Massachusetts Question 1: Tax on Income Above $1 Million for Education and Transportation Amendment
  12. Nebraska Initiative 433: $15.00 Minimum Wage Initiative
  13. Oregon Measure 114: Changes to Firearm Ownership and Purchase Requirements Initiative
  14. Iowa Amendment 1: Right to Keep and Bear Arms Measure
  15. Alabama Question: Recompiled Constitution Ratification Measure

Some of the trends we’re seeing with these 15 measures, as well as state ballot measures in general, are policies related to abortion, marijuana, and voting.

  1. Abortion has been a topic for statewide ballot measures since the 1970s. Since 2000, there have been just two general election cycles, 2002 and 2016, without abortion-related state ballot measures. In 2022, there will be six ballot measures addressing abortion — the most on record for a single year. Before 2022, the highest number was four abortion-related measures in 1986. We provide a look at Michigan Proposal 3 and Kentucky Amendment 2 on our top 15 page. Measures were also certified for the ballot in California, Montana, and Vermont. On Aug. 2, voters in Kansas rejected a constitutional amendment similar to Kentucky’s Amendment 2.
  2. Marijuana is currently legal in 19 states and D.C., of which 13 and D.C. legalized marijuana through ballot measures. Our top 15 list previews Missouri Amendment 3. Missouri is the largest state to vote on marijuana legalization this year. There are also marijuana legalization measures on the ballot in Arkansas, Maryland, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
  3. Voting—how to vote, when to vote, and who can vote—will be on the ballot in seven states. Summaries of Nevada Question 3, a top-five ranked-choice voting initiative, and Michigan Proposal 2, an initiative to establish voting policies in the state constitution, are summarized on the top 15 page

Keep reading

Roundup of recent vacancies on state supreme courts

Eighty-four seats on state supreme courts are up for election this year. But, elections are not the only way supreme court judges are selected in the states. This year, we’ve seen 21 supreme court vacancies in 16 states where replacement justices are appointed. One vacancy opened when a justice died, and the others opened when a justice retired.

  • Ten of the vacancies—in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming—are in states where a Republican governor appoints the replacement. 
  • Seven vacancies—in Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, and Pennsylvania—are in states where a Democratic governor appoints the replacement. 
  • Two vacancies—both in Virginia—are in a state where a Republican-controlled legislature appoints the replacement. Although control of the state House and Senate is split, judicial appointments in Virginia are decided by a combined vote of both chambers, where Republicans have a majority.
  • Two vacancies—both in Illinois—are in a state where the state supreme court votes to appoint a replacement.

The governor alone appoints judges in four states, while a nominating commission provides the governor with a list of potential nominees in 23 states. In South Carolina and Virginia, the state legislature elects supreme court judges. The following map shows how judges are chosen in state supreme courts across the country. 

In 2021, there were 19 supreme court vacancies in 17 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. One vacancy opened when a justice died, and the other 18 opened when a justice retired.

Eleven vacancies—in Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Vermont—were in states where a Republican governor appointed the replacement. The other eight vacancies—in California, Colorado, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Oregon—were in states where a Democratic governor appointed the replacement.

There has been one state supreme court vacancy announced so far for 2023 in one of the 29 states where replacements are appointed. The vacancy occurred on the California Supreme Court when a justice was elevated to chief justice. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) will appoint a replacement.

Keep reading 

Washington holding special election for secretary of state

Today is the 27th day of our 50 States in 50 days series, and we’re featuring Washington, the Evergreen 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, New Jersey

On the ballot in Washington

Washington voters will elect one member to the U.S. Senate and 10 members to the U.S. House. U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D) is running for re-election. Nine of the 10 current members of the U.S. House from Washington are running for re-election. The tenth, Jaime Herrera Beutler (R), lost in the 3rd District primary.

Although state executive offices are typically on the ballot in presidential election years in Washington, there is a special election for secretary of state. Incumbent Steve Hobbs (D) is running in the special election. Hobbs was appointed to the position in 2021 to fill a vacancy.

All 98 seats in the Washington House of Representatives and 24 of the 49 seats in the Washington Senate are up for election. Twenty-six incumbents (six in the senate and 20 in the house) are not running for re-election.

Three of the nine justices on the Washington Supreme Court are up for re-election this year. None of the justices faces opposition in the general election. Seven judges across the state’s three appellate court districts are also up for re-election.

For local offices, two counties—King and Spokane—that fall within Ballotpedia’s coverage scope are holding elections this year.

Click here for more information about the races on the ballot this year.

Redistricting highlights

Washington’s U.S. House delegation remained at 10 members following the 2020 census.

Congressional and state legislative elections will take place under new district lines following the census. Our side-by-side map comparison tool allows you to immediately see what redistricting looks like in your state. Here are the congressional maps in effect before and after the 2020 redistricting cycle in Washington:  

To use our tool to view Washington’s state legislative maps in effect before and after the 2020 redistricting cycle, visit our Washington redistricting page

Partisan balance

  • Both of Washington’s U.S. Senators—Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray—are Democrats.
  • Washington’s U.S. House delegation consists of seven Democrats and three Republicans.
  • Democrats hold a 29-20 majority in the state Senate and a 57-41 majority in the state House. Because the governor is a Democrat, Washington is one of 14 Democratic trifectas. It has held this status since 2018.
  • Washington has had a Democratic governor since 1985. Its last Republican governor was John Dennis Spellman.
  • Along with the governor, the secretary of state and attorney general are also Democrats, making the state one of 18 with a Democratic triplex.

Seats contested by only one major party

In 2022, 51 state legislative seats in Washington, or 42% of all seats up for election, do not have major party competition. When a candidate from only one of either the Democratic or Republican parties runs in a state legislative district, that party is all but guaranteed to win.

Democrats are running in 77% of all state legislative races. Twenty-eight state legislative districts (23% of those up for election) do not have a Democrat running, meaning a Republican is likely to win.

Republicans are running in 81% of all state legislative races. Twenty-three districts (19% of the total) do not have a Republican running, meaning a Democrat is likely to win.

Key races

  • U.S. House, Washington District 8: Rep. Kim Schrier (D) and Matt Larkin (R) are running. Two independent race forecasters rate the election as Toss-up, while a third rates it as Lean Democratic. Schrier was first elected to the U.S. House in 2018. Before Schrier was elected, Republicans had represented the 8th District since 1983.
  • Secretary of state: Secretary of State Steve Hobbs (D) and Julie Anderson (I) are running in the general election. In the top-two primary, Hobbs received 39.9% of the vote, and Anderson received 12.8% of the vote. Anderson beat out three Republican candidates (who finished with 12.1%, 12.0%, and 10.0%, respectively) in the primary. Before Hobbs was appointed in November 2021, Republicans had held the office since 1965.

Ballot measures

There are two measures on the ballot this year. Both were automatically referred to the ballot after the legislature passed two laws that created or increased taxes or fees. Initiative 960, which requires statewide advisory votes for any tax increases not approved by voters, is the measure that introduced the requirement putting the two on the ballot.

  • Advisory Vote 39: Advises the legislature to either maintain or repeal a tax increase on aircraft fuel from 11 cents to 18 cents per gallon passed in Senate Bill 5974.
  • Advisory Vote 40: Advises the legislature to either maintain or repeal a tax on transportation network companies passed in House Bill 2076.

Two hundred one ballot measures appeared on statewide ballots in Washington between 1985 and 2021. One hundred seven ballot measures were approved, and ninety-four ballot measures were defeated.


  • Washington provides for universal, automatic mail-in voting in all elections. Voters may choose to cast their ballots in person. Mail ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 8. To check the status of your ballot, click here.
  • Poll opening times vary by locality. All polls close at 8 p.m. local time.
  • Washington requires voters to present photo identification when voting in person. To read about the types of accepted identification, click here.
  • Early voting sites open on Oct. 21 and close on Nov. 7.
  • The voter registration deadline varies based on registration method. The deadline for in-person registration is Nov. 8. The deadline for by-mail or online registration is Oct. 31. Mailed forms must be received by the deadline.

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

Keep reading