Abortion, marijuana, and ranked-choice voting—our top 10 ballot measures to watch in 2023

Welcome to the Friday, October 13, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

In Wednesday’s edition, we mistakenly said we are covering all school board elections in 10 states on Nov. 7. While we are covering all school board elections in 10 states throughout 2023, only seven of those states are holding school board elections on Nov. 7. We apologize for the error.

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

  1. The top 10 ballot measures we’re watching on Election Day 2023
  2. Louisiana voters head to the polls to decide primaries on Oct. 14—here’s what’s on the ballot
  3. #FridayTrivia: How many states have banned private funding for the administration of elections?

The top 10 ballot measures we’re watching on Election Day 2023

On Nov. 7, voters in five states will decide 28 statewide ballot measures—the highest number in an odd-numbered year since 2007. The measures address abortion, marijuana, utilities, taxes, and state constitutional rights. 

Overall, 41 statewide measures are certified for the ballot in 2023. Voters decided five earlier this year (Louisiana voters will decide four on Oct. 14—tomorrow!). 

What follows is our list of the top 10 measures we’re watching on Nov. 7. These measures relate to broad political debates and are likely to influence policy discussions nationwide. 

  • Ohio Issue 1: Issue 1 is a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment to establish a state constitutional right to “make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions,” including decisions about abortion, contraception, and other reproductive matters.
    • Additional context: In 2022, following Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, there were six ballot measures addressing abortion, including three constitutional amendments to establish a state constitutional right to abortion. Voters approved each one. In 2023, there is one—Ohio’s Issue 1.
  • Ohio Issue 2: Issue 2 is a citizen-initiated state statute to legalize marijuana for recreational or personal use in Ohio, which would be the 24th state to legalize marijuana.
    • Additional context: Heading into November, marijuana is legal in 23 states and D.C. Fourteen of those 23 states had legalized marijuana through the ballot measure process. About 49.07% of the U.S. population lives in a state where marijuana is legal. Approval of Ohio Issue 2 would increase that percentage to 52.56%.
  • Maine Question 3: This is a citizen-initiated statute that would replace investor-owned transmission and distribution utilities in Maine with a quasi-public, elected-board corporation called the Pine Tree Power Company. Click here to read our earlier in-depth coverage of this measure in the Brew
  • Maine Question 1: Question 1 was initiated in response to legislation to create the Pine Tree Power Company. Question 1 would require voter approval for certain state entities, municipal electric districts, electrification cooperatives, or consumer-owned transmission utilities to incur a total outstanding debt that exceeds $1 billion. The estimated cost for Pine Tree Power Company to purchase and acquire investor-owned electric utilities ranges from $5.0 billion to $13.5 billion.
  • Maine Question 2: Question 2, an initiated state statute, would prohibit foreign governments, or entities with at least 5% foreign government ownership or control, from making expenditures to influence ballot measures or candidate elections in Maine. In 2021, Hydro-Québec, a government-owned corporation, spent at least $22.39 million to oppose Maine’s Question 1. The measure was designed to prohibit the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC), a 145-mile transmission line project for bringing electric transmission from hydroelectric facilities in Québec, Canada, to the United States.
  • Maine Question 4: Question 4, a citizen-initiated state statute, was designed to require motor vehicle manufacturers to standardize onboard vehicle diagnostics and make access to vehicle systems available to owners and independent repair shops for repairs. Question 4 would provide that owners and independent repair shops can access this information, rather than just vehicle manufacturers and dealerships.
  • Texas Proposition 1: Proposition 1, an amendment to the Texas Bill of Rights, would establish a state constitutional right to farming, ranching, timber production, horticulture, and wildlife management.
  • Texas Proposition 3: Proposition 3 would amend the Texas Constitution to prohibit the legislature from enacting a future wealth or net worth tax. 
  • Colorado Proposition HH: Proposition HH would, among other things, allow the state government to retain and spend revenue that would otherwise need to be refunded to residents under TABOR, the Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
  • Local ranked-choice voting measures: Although this story is primarily focused on statewide measures, we’d be remiss if we didn’t touch briefly on local measures related to ranked-choice voting (RCV). Voters in four local jurisdictions will decide RCV measures on Nov. 7—three are to adopt RCV and one to repeal. Since 1965, voters have decided on 63 local ballot measures related to RCV. Voters have approved 80.70% of the local measures to adopt RCV and 50.00% of those to repeal RCV.

You can learn more about our top 10 ballot measures to watch on Election Day at the link below. We’ll return to this topic next month for post-election analyses of these measures. 

 Keep reading

Louisiana voters head to the polls to decide primaries on Oct. 14—here’s what’s on the ballot

Tomorrow is the weekend—but if you’re a resident of Louisiana, you may spend some of the day voting (check out our Sample Ballot if you’re a Louisianian!). 

On Oct. 14, the state will hold primaries for various offices, including for governor and state legislative districts. Voters will also decide four statewide ballot measures on topics ranging from elections to religion and Constitutional rights. We previewed Louisiana’s statewide ballot measures in the Brew a few days ago. 

When it comes to races involving candidates, Louisiana’s elections use the majority-vote system. All candidates, regardless of party affiliation, run in the same primary. A candidate can win the election outright by receiving more than 50% of the vote in the primary. If no candidate crosses that mark, the top two vote recipients from the primary advance to the Nov. 18 general election. 

Louisiana cancels uncontested primaries (candidates then win outright), and does not permit write-in candidates. 

Here’s a look at what’s on the ballot on Oct. 14.

State executive 

State legislature

Louisiana is one of four states holding state legislative elections this year (Virginia, Mississippi, and New Jersey are the others). One-hundred and forty-four districts are up for election. 

Republicans have a 27-12 majority in the Senate and a 71-33 majority in the House (with one vacancy). Republicans are guaranteed a simple majority in both chambers after the election because 57% of races feature a Republican candidate but no Democrat.

The last year Democrats held a majority in the House was 2010. 

That was also the last year Democrats held a majority in the Senate. 

Local elections

In addition to those state-level elections, we’re also covering municipal elections in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Baton Rouge is holding primaries for assessor, clerk of court, coroner, and sheriff, while New Orleans is holding special primaries for two civil district court judges, one criminal district court judge, and one city court judge.

Click the link below to read more about Louisiana’s Oct. 14 primaries. 

Keep reading 

#FridayTrivia: How many states have banned private funding for the administration of elections?

In the Oct. 9 Brew, we looked at a measure on the ballot this November in Louisiana that would ban private, non-governmental, and foreign funding for the administration of elections.

Other states have banned such funding in the past through the legislative process, but if Amendment 1 passes, Louisiana would be the first to have done so via a ballot measure. 

Overall, how many states have banned private funding for the administration of elections?

  1. 25 
  2. 32 
  3. 14
  4. 9