Number of California local ballot measures during odd-numbered years continues downward trend

California voters decided on 45 local ballot measures in 2023. These local ballot measures included county measures, city or town measures, or measures from local school districts or special districts. 

In 2023, there was one less measure than in the previous odd-numbered election year in 2021, when California voters decided on 46 local ballot measures. With 45 measures, 2023 featured a 51.61% decrease in the average number of measures during the last four odd-year election cycles.

One reason for the decline during odd-numbered years is the California Voter Participation Rights Act (CVPRA), passed in 2015, which required local jurisdictions to hold regular elections at even-numbered year statewide elections, unless the local jurisdictions had turnout above certain thresholds. The CVPRA required local jurisdictions to adopt a plan for consolidated elections no later than 2022.

In California, there were more ballot measures during even-numbered years. To compare, during the previous five odd-year election years, California voters decided on 46 local measures in 2021, 78 local measures in 2019, 135 local measures in 2017, and 111 measures in 2015.

During the even-numbered election years, California voters decided on 572 measures in 2022, 719 measures in 2020, 726 measures in 2018, and 832 measures in 2016.

Out of the 45 local measures on the California ballot in 2023, voters approved 34 local ballot measures or 75.5% of the 45 measures. Voters defeated 11 local measures.

These measures spanned 10 separate election dates throughout the year, the earliest election being on Mar. 7. The most measures were on the ballot for the election on Nov. 7, when 18 measures were on the ballot. Out of the measures on Nov. 7, voters approved 13 measures and defeated five.

The local ballot measures addressed various topics. Twenty-eight measures, 62% of them, had to do with taxes. Five measures were related to charter amendments, four measures were related to special district governance, three measures were related to zoning, and five measures were related to miscellaneous topics.

Twenty-three of the 28 tax measures on the local California ballots in 2023 were parcel taxes. Parcel taxes are a form of special property tax, which must be paid by the owners of parcels, or units, of real estate. Seventeen (17) were approved and six were defeated. 

The other tax-related measures were two city tax measures, one sales tax measure, one district tax measure, and one tax on marijuana.

The 45 local measures were on the ballot in 22 counties. The most amount of measures took place in Los Angeles County, with 11 total measures on the ballot. In 2022, there were 572 local measures in 54 counties.

Out of the past nine election years, 2023 had the lowest number of local measures on the ballot. 2016 had the greatest amount of local ballot measures, with 832 on the ballot.