Marijuana is on the ballot in five states on Election Day

Welcome to the Thursday, November 3, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

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

  1. Five states to decide in November on legalizing recreational marijuana
  2. Bass, Caruso face off in Los Angeles mayoral election
  3. In Delaware, 58% of all state legislative seats up for election lack major party competition

Five states to decide on legalizing recreational marijuana

We’re down to the wire, with only a few days to go before Election Day. Over the last few weeks, we’ve brought you stories about the statewide ballot measures voters will decide on Nov. 8. For our final story on this topic, let’s look at where voters will decide on marijuana legalization. Be sure to bookmark our election hub page so that, on Election Day and throughout next week, you can see results for all 132 measures on the ballot. 

Let’s jump in.

In November, five states will decide on marijuana legalization ballot measures. In the central U.S., voters in Arkansas, Missouri, North Dakota, and South Dakota will consider citizen initiatives to legalize marijuana. These four states are Republican trifectas. In Maryland, which has a divided government, the legislature voted to put the issue before voters.

Here’s a summary of those measures:

  • Arkansas Issue 4: Amends the constitution to legalize the possession and use of up to one ounce of marijuana for people 21 and older, enacts a 10% tax on marijuana sales, and requires the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Division to develop rules to regulate marijuana businesses.
  • Maryland Question 4: Amends the constitution to legalize marijuana for people 21 and older beginning in July 2023 and directs the Maryland legislature to pass laws for the use, distribution, regulation, and taxation of marijuana.
  • Missouri Amendment 3: Amends the constitution to legalize marijuana for people 21 and older , allows individuals convicted of non-violent marijuana-related offenses to petition to be released from incarceration and/or have their records expunged, and enacts a 6% tax on the sale of marijuana.
  • North Dakota Statutory Measure 2: Amends state law to legalize the use and possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for people 21 and older, allows individuals to grow up to three marijuana plants, and requires the Department of Health and Human Services to establish rules regulating marijuana by Oct. 1, 2023
  • South Dakota Initiated Measure 27: Amends state law to legalize marijuana for persons who are 21 years old and allows adults to possess one ounce or less of marijuana

Marijuana is legal in 19 states and D.C. Eleven of those states and D.C. legalized marijuana through the ballot initiative process. One state, New Jersey, passed a legislatively referred measure.

In 12 states where marijuana is currently prohibited, the initiative process could be used to legalize recreational or medical marijuana. In addition to the four states deciding marijuana initiatives in 2022, Oklahoma will vote on marijuana legalization in 2023. Marijuana legalization initiatives targeting the 2023 and 2024 ballots have also been filed in Ohio, Wyoming, Florida, and Nebraska and could be filed in Idaho, Mississippi, Nebraska, and Utah.

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Bass, Caruso face off in Los Angeles mayoral election

Let’s turn to the most closely watched mayoral race on Nov. 8—in Los Angeles, California. 

Karen Bass and Rick Caruso are running in the nonpartisan general election for mayor of Los Angeles on Nov. 8. The candidates advanced from the June 7 primary election since neither received 50% of the vote, a threshold necessary to win outright. Incumbent Mayor Eric Garcetti is term-limited.

Bass was first elected to the California Assembly in 2004 and served until 2010, including a term as speaker from 2008 to 2010.. Bass was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 and currently represents California’s 37th Congressional District. In a campaign ad, Bass said, “I’m running for mayor to meet today’s challenges: crime, homelessness, and the soaring cost of housing.”

Caruso is the founder and chief executive officer of a retail complex development company. He has also served on Los Angeles’ Department of Water and Power Commission, as the president of Los Angeles’ Police Commission, and on the USC Board of Trustees. In a campaign ad, Caruso said, “I’m running for mayor because the city we love is in a state of emergency: rampant homelessness, people living in fear for their safety, and politicians at city hall just in it for themselves.” 

Though the election is officially nonpartisan, both candidates are registered Democrats. Caruso said he changed his party registration from no party preference to Democrat in January 2022. Bass has held elected office as a Democrat since 2005.

Among others, President Joe Biden (D), Speaker of the U.S. House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and Los Angeles Councilmember Bob Blumenfield have endorsed Bass. Among others, former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, Los Angeles Councilmember Joe Buscaino, and former Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department Charlie Beck have endorsed Caruso.  

The New York Times‘ Jennifer Medina wrote that the race “has focused on voters’ worries about public safety and homelessness in the nation’s second-largest city” and could “become a test of whether voters this year favor an experienced politician who has spent nearly two decades in government or an outsider running on his business credentials.” 

This is the first even-year election for Los Angeles mayor since the 2015 passage of Charter Amendment 1, which shifted city elections to even-numbered years beginning in 2020. The city uses a strong mayor and city council system. In this form of municipal government, the city council serves as the city’s primary legislative body and the mayor serves as the city’s chief executive.

The mayors of 62 of the country’s 100 largest cities were affiliated with the Democratic Party. Republicans held 26 mayoral offices, independents held four, and seven mayors were nonpartisan. One mayor’s partisan affiliation was unknown. Los Angeles has a Democratic mayor.

Click below to read more about the Los Angeles mayoral election.

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In Delaware, 58% of all state legislative seats up for election lack major party competition

Today is the 48th day of our 50 States in 50 days series, and we’re featuring Delaware, the First 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, Washington, Alabama, Utah
Week Eight: Mississippi, Maryland, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, Maine
Week Nine: Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Alaska, Hawaii, Florida
Week Ten: Missouri, Louisiana, New York 

On the ballot in Delaware

At the federal level, Delaware voters will elect one member to the U.S. House Representatives.

Three state executive offices are on the ballot this year: attorney general, treasurer, and auditor.

All 41 seats in the state House of Representatives and all 21 seats in the state Senate are up for election. Seven incumbents did not run for re-election in seven seats. 

Redistricting highlights

After the 2020 census, Delaware’s number of congressional districts remained the same at one, making it one of six states that elects a single at-large representative.

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 state senate maps in effect before and after the 2020 redistricting cycle in Delaware:  

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

Partisan balance

  • Both of Delaware’s U.S. Senators—Chris Coons and Tom Carper—are Democrats.
  • Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, a Democrat, has represented Delaware’s At-Large Congressional District since 2017.
  • Democrats hold a 26-15 majority in the state House and a 14-7 majority in the state Senate. Because the governor is a Democrat, Delaware is one of 14 states with a Democratic state government trifecta. It has held this status since 2009.
  • Along with the governor, Delaware’s secretary of state and attorney general are also Democrats, making the state one of 18 Democratic triplexes among those offices. 

Seats contested by only one major party

In 2022, 36 state legislative seats in Delaware, or 58% 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 for a state legislative seat, that party is all but guaranteed to win the seat.

Democrats are running in 74% of all state legislative races. Sixteen state legislative seats (26% of all state legislative seats) do not feature a Democratic candidate and a Republican is likely to win.

Republicans are running in 68% of all state legislative races. Twenty state legislative seats (32% of all state legislative seats) do not feature a Republican and a Democrat is likely to win.

Key races

Ballot measures

Delaware does not allow citizen initiative, referendum, or recall.

Only two advisory questions have been put before the people of Delaware: the Delaware Slot Machines Referendum in 1976, which was defeated, and the Delaware Charitable Gambling Referendum in 1984, which was approved. Both related to issues of gambling in the state.


  • Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time.
  • Delaware requires voters to present non-photo identification while voting. To read more about Delaware’s ID requirements, click here
  • Early voting is available from Oct. 28 to Nov. 6.
  • The voting registration deadline in Delaware was Oct. 15. Voters could have registered online, by mail, or in person. Mail registration forms are valid as long as they are postmarked Oct. 15 or earlier. Delaware does not allow Election Day registration. 
  • Delaware places some limits on who may vote absentee. To read more about the requirements to vote absentee in Delaware, click here
  • The deadline for requesting a mail-in ballot in person, by mail, or online is Nov. 4. Mail-in ballots must be returned in person or by mail by Nov. 8. 

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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