Author

Ryan Byrne

Ryan Byrne is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

129 statewide measures will be on Nov. 8 ballot

Voters in 36 states will decide on 129 ballot measures at the general election on November 8. As five ballot measures were decided at elections earlier this year, and three more will be decided in December, the annual total of statewide ballot measures for 2022 is 137.

Across the U.S., ballot measures will address issues like abortion, marijuana, and election law in November. Topics like sports betting, psychedelic fungi and plants, flavored tobacco, alcohol, firearms, and income taxes are featured on ballots in some states.

Number of citizen-initiated measures below average

This year’s annual total—137—is more than the number of statewide ballot measures in 2020, which was 129. However, the annual total is below the previous decade’s (2010-2020) average of 164. 

The number of citizen-initiated ballot measures and legislative referrals has decreased since 2010. The number of citizen-initiated measures in 2022 is 30, which is the lowest number during the prior decade. In 2020, there were 43 citizen-initiated measures. 

There could be several reasons for the lower number of initiatives in 2022. For 2022, 851 initiatives were proposed, and 3.5% made the ballot. In 2016, for instance, 1,069 initiatives were proposed, and 7.1% made the ballot. Overall, there is a correlation between the number of initiatives proposed and the number certified for the ballot, and there is also a decade-long trend toward fewer proposed initiatives making the ballot. There are also fewer initiatives, on average, during mid-term years compared to presidential years. From 2010 to 2022, presidential years featured an average of 60 citizen-initiated measures, whereas mid-term years featured an average of 47 citizen-initiated measures. Campaigns have also cited the effects of COVID-19 and labor shortages on signature drive costs in 2022.

An additional factor for ballot initiative campaigns is recent signature increases. Of the 26 states that allow for some form of initiative or referendum, 22 states base their signature requirements on turnout at specific elections, which either occurred in 2018 or 2020. According to the U.S. Elections Project, the midterm turnout in 2018 was 50%, the highest since 1912, and 13.3 percentage points above 2014. The presidential election turnout in 2020 was 66.8%, the highest since 1900, and 6.7 percentage points above 2016. In California, which saw the largest signature increase, the requirement increased by 70.3%. 

Trends include abortion, marijuana, and election policies

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 November, there are five ballot measures addressing abortion—the most on record for a single year. Earlier, in August, one measure was defeated in Kansas. Before 2022, the highest number of abortion-related measures on statewide ballots was four in 1986. In California, Michigan, and Vermont, voters will decide on constitutional rights to abortion. In Kentucky, like Kansas, voters will decide on a constitutional amendment to declare that the state constitution cannot be interpreted as creating a right to abortion. Voters in Montana will decide on a measure requiring medical care to be provided to infants born alive after an attempted abortion or other procedure.

Heading into November, marijuana is legal in 19 states and D.C. Of those 19 states, 13 and D.C. had legalized marijuana through the ballot measure process. In 2022, five more 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-initiated measures to legalize marijuana. In Maryland, the state legislature voted to put the issue before voters.

Voters in 10 states will decide on ballot measures to change election policies or laws in November. South Dakota decided on a measure in June, and Louisiana will decide on one in December. Voters will decide on a top-five ranked-choice voting system in Nevada, where approval of an initiated constitutional amendment is required twice in 2022 and 2024. Voters in three states will decide on legislative proposals to change the processes for citizen-initiated ballot measures this year. Other issues on the ballot include early voting, voter identification, citizenship requirements, and campaign finance reporting.

You can learn more about this year’s statewide ballot measures at Ballotpedia.org.



Six abortion-related measures are on the ballot in 2022—the most on record for a single year

In 2022, there are six ballot measures addressing abortion—the most on record. Measures have been certified for the ballot in California, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, and Vermont. Votes on these ballot measures follow Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which held that the U.S. Constitution does not confer a right to abortion.

Voters in California, Michigan, and Vermont will be the first to decide on ballot measures to establish state constitutional rights to abortion. These measures are also the first abortion-related ballot measures since 1992 to have the support of organizations that describe themselves as pro-choice/pro-reproductive rights.

In August, voters in Kansas rejected a measure to provide that the state constitution cannot be interpreted to establish a state constitutional right to abortion. Turnout on the amendment was 49%, exceeding the number of votes cast in the state’s U.S. Senate and gubernatorial primaries on August 2. On November 8, voters in Kentucky will decide on a similar amendment. These types of amendments are designed to address previous and future state court rulings on abortion that have prevented or could prevent legislatures from passing certain abortion laws. 

In November, voters will decide on five abortion-related ballot measures:

  • California Proposition 1: Amends the California Constitution to provide that the state cannot “deny or interfere with an individual’s reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions,” including decisions to have an abortion or to choose or refuse contraceptives
  • Kentucky Constitutional Amendment 2: Amends the Kentucky Constitution to state that nothing in the state constitution creates a right to abortion or requires government funding of abortions
  • Michigan Proposal 3: Amends the Michigan Constitution to provide a state constitutional right to reproductive freedom, defined to include abortion, contraception, and other matters related to pregnancy
  • Montana LR-131: Provides, in state law, that infants born alive at any stage of development are legal persons and requires medical care to be provided to infants born alive after an induced labor, cesarean section, attempted abortion, or another method
  • Vermont Amendment: Amends the Vermont Constitution to provide a state constitutional right to personal reproductive autonomy

From 1970 to August 2022, there have been 48 abortion-related ballot measures, and 41 (85%) of these had the support of organizations that described themselves as pro-life. Voters approved 11 (27%) and rejected 30 (73%) of these 41 ballot measures. The other seven abortion-related ballot measures had the support of organizations that described themselves as pro-choice or pro-reproductive rights. Voters approved four (57%) and rejected three (43%).

Additional reading:



Voters in St. Louis, Missouri, approve two ballot measures on Aug. 2

On August 2, voters in St. Louis, Missouri, approved two ballot measures—Proposition F and Proposition S.

St. Louis Proposition F amended the city’s charter to increase the maximum fine for violations of ordinances regarding environmental conditions, such as dumping waste and debris and prohibited refuse, from $500 to $1,000. With all precincts reporting, the vote was 85.03% to 14.97%. A 60% supermajority vote was required to approve Proposition F. In March, the St. Louis City Council voted 27-0 to place the measure on the ballot.

St. Louis Public Schools Proposition S authorized the Board of Education to issue $160 million in general obligation bonds for school renovations, repairs, and upgrades. With all precincts reporting, the vote was 86.87% to 13.13%. A four-sevenths (57.14%) vote was needed to approve the ballot measure. 

Superintendent Kelvin Adams said the bond revenue would cover about half of the district’s needed fixes. “We’re only going to touch the surface of this,” said Adams, “We know for a fact that there are more needs than the dollars will support, but this gets us moving in the right direction.” Voters last approved a bond for St. Louis Public Schools in 2010.

Since 2018, voters in St. Louis, and jurisdictions that include St. Louis, have decided on 18 local ballot measures, approving 15 (83%) and rejecting three (17%). Before August 2, the last citywide election in St. Louis was on April 5, 2022, when voters approved two ballot measures – an initiative addressing redistricting and conflict of interest policies and a capital improvements bond measure.   

St. Louis also held citywide primaries on August 2, including for the offices of the collector of revenue, license collector, and recorder of deeds.



Kansans reject amendment to provide that the state constitution does not secure a right to abortion

Kansans rejected an amendment to provide that the state constitution does not secure a right to abortion on August 2. With 100% of precincts reporting, the vote was 58.78% ‘No’ to 41.22% ‘Yes’.

Based on unofficial results, 908,745 people voted on the constitutional amendment compared to 727,360 in the gubernatorial primaries and 718,545 in the U.S. Senate primaries. Turnout on the amendment exceeded overall turnout at the 2018 (457,598) and 2020 (636,032) state primaries.

Democratic voter turnout, relative to total turnout, for the gubernatorial and U.S. Senate primaries were also at their highest since at least 2014.

  • Of those who voted in the gubernatorial primaries, 38% voted in the Democratic primary compared to 33% in 2018 and 20% in 2014.
  • Of those who voted in the U.S. Senate primaries, 35% voted in the Democratic primary compared to 32% in 2018, 24% in 2016, and 20% in 2014.

Kansas is the seventh state to vote on an amendment addressing constitutional interpretation and abortion. These types of amendments are designed to address previous or future state court rulings on abortion that have prevented or could prevent legislatures from passing certain abortion laws. In Kansas, for example, the state Supreme Court ruled that the state’s Bill of Rights provided a state constitutional right to abortion in 2019.

Since 2014, voters in four states – Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, and West Virginia – have approved such amendments. The last state to reject one was Florida in 2012. The next state to vote on this type of amendment is Kentucky on November 8, 2022. 

In Kansas, the Value Them Both PAC led the campaign in support of the amendment. Supporters included U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall (R) and former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R). The campaign received $6.03 million through July 18, including $2.95 million from the Archdiocese of Kansas City.

Kansans for Constitutional Freedom led the campaign in opposition to the amendment. Opponents included Gov. Laura Kelly (D) and U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids (D-3). The campaign received $7.35 million through July 18, including $1.39 from the Sixteen Thirty Fund.

The constitutional amendment was the first abortion-related ballot measure to be decided following Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, where the U.S. Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade. Both campaigns issued statements placing the amendment within the context of that decision. Value Them Both said, “The U.S. Supreme Court restored the people’s ability to come to individual consensus on abortion limits — but not in Kansas. As it stands today, unelected judges in Kansas are the ones who will decide the fate of abortion limits.” Kansans for Constitutional Freedom said, “The Supreme Court has voted to strike down Roe v. Wade. On August 2, Kansas will be the first state in the nation to vote on reproductive freedom following this decision.”

In November, voters will decide on four more abortion-related ballot measures. Beside the constitutional amendment in Kentucky, measures will be on the ballot in California, Montana, and Vermont. Voters in California and Vermont will be the first to decide ballot measures to establish state constitutional rights to abortion. Michigan, where signatures are being verified for an initiated constitutional amendment, could join California and Vermont as well. In Montana, voters will decide a measure to provide that infants born alive at any stage of development are legal persons and must receive medical care after an attempted abortion, induced labor, cesarean section, or other method. A campaign in Colorado is collecting signatures for an initiative to prohibit abortion in the state.

Additional reading:

2022 abortion-related ballot measures

History of abortion ballot measures



Election officials in Kansas expect higher voter turnout at Aug. 2 primary due to abortion amendment

On August 2, Kansans will vote on political parties’ nominees for federal and state offices, as well as an amendment to provide that the state constitution cannot be interpreted to create or secure a right to abortion. 

The ballot measure could increase turnout above that for previous midterm primaries in recent years according to Fred Sherman, election commissioner for Johnson County. Sherman said, “We are anticipating an unprecedented or record-breaking voter participation rate for our August primary.” In Sedgwick County, election commissioner Angela Caudillo said, “Typically, elections like this run about 20-30% turnout. We’re expecting potentially 50% turn out.” KCTV 5 reported that officials in Wyandotte County were expecting 40%-45% turnout.

On July 29, the office of Secretary of State Scott Schwab projected that turnout would be around 636,032 or 36% of registered voters. Schwab said, “… abortion is a compelling issue, and there’s strong opinions on both sides. That’s always going to be an issue that some people go and vote for.”

Since 2010, the average non-presidential primary turnout has been 25.6%, with a range of 20.2% in 2014 to 34.2% in 2020. The highest turnout at a midterm primary election during this period was 27.1% in 2018. 

Kansas uses a semi-closed primary for congressional and state-level elections. Voters already affiliated with a political party can participate only in that party’s primary. An unaffiliated voter can declare his or her affiliation with a political party on the day of the election and vote in that party’s primary. However, an unaffiliated voter does not need to declare an affiliation to vote on the constitutional amendment.

In the legislature, sponsors proposed the constitutional amendment as a response to the Kansas Supreme Court’s ruling in Hodes & Nauser v. Schmidt (2019), which held that the Kansas Bill of Rights “affords protection of the right of personal autonomy,” including “decisions that can include whether to continue a pregnancy.”

Kansas is the seventh state where voters will decide on an amendment to provide that the state’s constitution cannot be interpreted to establish a state constitutional right to abortion. In 1986, Massachusetts was the first state where voters decided, and rejected, this type of constitutional amendment. In Florida, voters rejected an amendment in 2012. Since 2014, voters decided, and approved, similar amendments in four states – Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, and West Virginia. In November, Kentucky will be the eighth state to vote on this type of constitutional amendment. 



Signature verification deadline for Missouri top-four ranked-choice voting initiative is August 9

In Missouri, there are two citizen-initiated measures pending signature verification. One would enact an electoral system combining top-four primaries and ranked-choice voting for general elections. The other proposal would legalize marijuana in the state. The state must verify whether enough signatures have been collected by August 9.

The electoral system initiative would replace partisan primaries with open top-four primaries for state executive, state legislative, and congressional offices. The ballot initiative would establish ranked-choice voting, also known as instant-runoff voting, for general elections, in which voters can rank the four candidates that succeeded from the primaries. The system would be similar to Alaska’s, where voters approved an initiative in 2020. 

Better Elections, the campaign behind the electoral system initiative, reported submitting more than 300,000 signatures on May 8. In Missouri, there is no statewide signature requirement; rather, proponents of initiated constitutional amendments need to collect signatures equal to 8 percent of the votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election in six of the eight state congressional districts. The smallest possible number of signatures required for an initiated amendment is 171,592.

Source: Ballotpedia

In June, Better Elections spokesman Scott Charton said, “There may not be sufficient signatures under Missouri law to give voters a chance to say yes to the Better Elections Amendment. The final counts from counties are still coming in, and we’re watching them closely.” Sean Nicholson, the campaign manager, said the signature issue was “a catastrophic failure on the part of Fieldworks,” the firm that Better Elections hired to organize a signature drive. Nicholson said the COVID-19 pandemic and a large number of signatures from unregistered people were some of the biggest obstacles. Fieldworks also addressed the issue, saying, “We share our client’s frustration. Signature gathering campaigns have faced unprecedented challenges in the last two years everywhere in the country. Our industry is not immune from the current workforce conditions.”

Missouri is one of 16 states with a signature distribution requirement for citizen-initiated measures. Of those 16, Missouri is one of five states where the distribution requirement is based on congressional districts. The other 10 states with an initiative or referendum process do not have distribution requirements.

If neither of the two initiatives pending signature verification make the ballot, 2022 would be the first even-numbered year since 1986 to feature no citizen-initiated ballot measures.



Voters in St. Louis, Missouri, will decide on two ballot measures on August 2

On August 2, voters in St. Louis, Missouri, will decide on two ballot measures – Proposition F and Proposition S.

St. Louis Proposition F would amend the city’s charter to increase the maximum fine for violations of ordinances regarding environmental conditions, such as dumping waste and debris and prohibited refuse, from $500 to $1,000. On March 11, 2022, the St. Louis City Council voted 27-0 to place Proposition F on the ballot.

St. Louis Public Schools Proposition S would authorize the Board of Education to issue $160 million in general obligation bonds for school renovations, repairs, and upgrades. Superintendent Kelvin Adams said the bond revenue would cover about half of the district’s needed fixes. “We’re only going to touch the surface of this,” said Adams, “We know for a fact that there are more needs than the dollars will support, but this gets us moving in the right direction.” Voters last approved a bond for St. Louis Public Schools in 2010.

Since 2018, voters in St. Louis, and jurisdictions that include St. Louis, have decided on 16 local ballot measures, approving 13 (81%) and rejecting three (19%). During the last citywide election in St. Louis on April 5, 2022, voters approved two ballot measures – an initiative addressing redistricting and conflict of interest policies and a capital improvements bond measure.   

St. Louis is also holding citywide primaries on August 2, including for the offices of the collector of revenue, license collector, and recorder of deeds.



2022 will feature the most abortion-related ballot measures on record; next states to watch for abortion measures are Michigan and Colorado

There will be at least five abortion-related ballot measures in 2022, including the first two ballot measures to provide explicit state constitutional rights related to abortion. On June 27, the California State Legislature passed a constitutional amendment, bringing the total to five – the most on record for a single year. Before 2022, the highest number was four measures in 1986. Since 1970, voters have decided on 47 abortion-related ballot measures. 

The next signature deadlines to watch are July 11 in Michigan and August 8 in Colorado, where campaigns are collecting signatures for abortion-related ballot measures. On July 7, an initiative campaign in Arizona did not submit signatures.

Of the five measures on the ballot, two are related to providing constitutional rights, two are related to how constitutional language can be interpreted regarding abortion, and one is related to practitioner requirements. The following are summaries of the certified ballot measures:

California: Proposition 1 would provide that the state cannot “deny or interfere with an individual’s reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions,” including decisions to have an abortion or to choose or refuse contraceptives. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), Senate President Toni Atkins (D-39), and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-63) called for the amendment on May 2, following the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Center draft opinion being leaked.

Kansas: On the ballot for August 2, the measure would amend the Kansas Constitution to state that nothing in the state constitution creates a right to abortion or requires government funding for abortions. The amendment would also declare that the legislature has the power to pass laws regarding abortion. Sponsors introduced the amendment in response to the Kansas Supreme Court’s ruling in Hodes & Nauser v. Schmidt (2019), which held that the Kansas Bill of Rights provided a right to an abortion.

Kentucky: Like the proposal in Kansas, the measure would amend the Kentucky Constitution to state that nothing in the state constitution creates a right to abortion or requires government funding for abortions. Unlike Kansas, there has not been a state court ruling providing for a state constitutional right to abortion. On June 27, the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and others filed a lawsuit to block the state from enforcing two statutes prohibiting or restricting abortion. Plaintiffs are arguing that the Kentucky Constitution “protects the right of a pregnant individual to access abortion.”

Montana: LR-131 would provide in state law that infants born alive at any stage of development are legal persons. The ballot measure would also require medical care to be provided to infants born alive after an induced labor, cesarean section, attempted abortion, or another method.

Vermont: Proposal 5 would amend the Vermont Constitution to provide that “an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course.” The process to get Proposal 5 on the ballot started in 2019. Eileen Sullivan, communications director for the Planned Parenthood Vermont Action Fund, said, “Justice [Anthony] Kennedy’s retirement prompted action in Vermont, so that these rights in Vermont would be protected no matter what happens in Washington, D.C.”

There could be two more citizen-initiated ballot measures—one in Colorado, and one in Michigan—related to abortion this year: 

Colorado: The initiative would prohibit abortion in Colorado, where the procedure is currently legal. Colorado Life Initiative, which is backing the proposal, reported collecting three-quarters of the required signatures on June 20. At least 124,632 signatures are required. The deadline is August 8.

Michigan: The initiative would add a provision to the state constitution that says, “Every individual has a fundamental right to reproductive freedom,” including a right to abortion. Reproductive Freedom for All, the campaign supporting the initiative, reported that about 800,000 had been collected. Signatures are due on July 11. At least 425,059 need to be valid.

There were several citizen-initiated measures and legislative proposals that did not make the ballot. In Arizona, a campaign filed an initiative to provide, in the Arizona Constitution, that “Every individual has a fundamental right to reproductive freedom.” The campaign launched on May 16, giving supporters 61 days to collect 356,467 valid signatures. Signatures were due on July 7, and the campaign reported gathering 175,000.

Additional reading:



2022 will feature the most abortion-related ballot measures on record; Campaigns respond to Dobbs

There will be at least five abortion-related ballot measures in 2022, including the first two ballot measures to provide explicit state constitutional rights related to abortion. On June 27, the California State Legislature passed a constitutional amendment, bringing the total to five – the most on record for a single year. Before 2022, the highest number was four measures in 1986. Since 1970, there have been 47 abortion-related ballot measures.

California, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, and Vermont have certified ballot measures for 2022.

Campaigns respond to the Supreme Court and Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

Voters in California and Vermont will be the first to decide on ballot measures to establish state constitutional rights to abortion. Votes on these measures follow Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which held that the U.S. Constitution does not confer a right to abortion and overruled Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

In Vermont, Proposal 5 would provide that “an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course” and cannot be infringed unless justified by a compelling state interest. Proposal 5 was first proposed in 2019. Eileen Sullivan, communications director for the Planned Parenthood Vermont Action Fund, cited changes in the U.S. Supreme Court’s membership as background for Proposal 5. Sullivan said, “Justice [Anthony] Kennedy’s retirement prompted action in Vermont, so that these rights in Vermont would be protected no matter what happens in Washington, D.C.” Vermont Right to Life, which registered to oppose Proposal 5, responded following the Supreme Court’s decision, saying, “Extremist proponents of abortion rights in Vermont will use the Supreme Court decision to attempt to rally support for passage of Proposal 5.”

In California, a constitutional amendment would provide that the state cannot “deny or interfere with an individual’s reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions,” including the decision to have an abortion or to choose or refuse contraceptives. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), Senate President Toni Atkins (D-39), and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-63) issued a joint statement calling for an amendment on May 2, 2022, following the leak of a Dobbs order draft. “We know we can’t trust the Supreme Court to protect reproductive rights, so California will build a firewall around this right in our state constitution,” read the statement. The California Catholic Conference responded to the government officials’ statement, saying, “This will destroy lives, families, and significantly limit the ability of the Catholic Church in California to protect the unborn.”

In Kansas and Kentucky, voters will decide on constitutional amendments to provide that state constitutions cannot be interpreted to establish a state constitutional right to abortion. These types of amendments are designed to address previous and future state court rulings on abortion that have prevented or could prevent legislatures from passing certain abortion laws. In Kansas, the amendment is on the ballot for Aug. 2, 2022. In Kentucky, the amendment will be on the general election ballot in November. 

In Kansas, the campaign Value Them Both praised the ruling, “Today’s decision on Dobbs v. Jackson emphasizes the importance of our democracy, restoring the power to the states to decide how and if they are going to place limits on the abortion industry.” The campaign added that, since the Kansas Supreme Court has found that the state’s Bill of Rights provides a right to abortion, “The U.S. Supreme Court restored the people’s ability to come to individual consensus on abortion limits — but not in Kansas. As it stands today, unelected judges in Kansas are the ones who will decide the fate of abortion limits.” Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, the opposition campaign, stated, “The Supreme Court has voted to strike down Roe v. Wade. … We must keep fighting for the people in Kansas who are counting on us to defeat the constitutional amendment. Don’t leave the future of abortion rights in Kansas to chance.”

In Kentucky, the support campaign, Yes for Life, stated, “By overturning Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court remedied one of the darkest decisions in its history and sent a clear message for life. Kentuckians can vote on November 8th to make our Constitution unequivocally prolife. By voting Yes for Life, we can ensure there is no right to an abortion or the funding for abortions in Kentucky’s Constitution.” Protect Kentucky Access, the opposition campaign, responded, “Deciding whether or not to have an abortion is a medical decision that should be made between patients and their providers—not one to be made by the government alone. We can still turn back this terrible tide if we act together by defeating Question 2.”

Voters in Montana will also decide on an abortion-related ballot measure. LR-131 would provide in state law that infants born alive at any stage of development are legal persons. LR-131 would also require medical care to be provided to infants born alive after an induced labor, cesarean section, attempted abortion, or other methods.

Campaigns seeking the ballot in three additional states in 2022

With five abortion-related measures set for the ballot this year, 2022 will feature the most for a single year. However, campaigns for three citizen-initiated measures are active in Arizona, Colorado, and Michigan, meaning the number of measures could increase to six or more. 

In Arizona and Michigan, citizen-initiated constitutional amendments would provide that “Every individual has a fundamental right to reproductive freedom …”, including abortion and “decisions about all matters relating to pregnancy.” Signatures are due in Arizona on July 7 and in Michigan on July 11.

In Colorado, the campaign Colorado Life Initiative is collecting signatures for an initiative to prohibit abortion in the state, except to save a woman’s life, for ectopic pregnancies, and to remove a fetus that is no longer alive. Signatures are due in Colorado on August 8.

Additional reading:



Measures regarding abortion have been on the ballot 47 times in 23 states since 1970; at least 4 more will be decided this year

Abortion has been a perennial issue for statewide ballot measures across the U.S. since the 1970s, and 2022 is continuing that trend.

There will be at least four ballot measures addressing abortion this year, which is the most since 1986. Measures have been certified for the ballot in Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, and Vermont. Should one more abortion-related measure make the ballot, 2022 will break that record.

Since 1970, there have been 47 abortion-related ballot measures, and 40 (85%) of these had the support of organizations that described themselves as pro-life. Voters approved 11 (27.5%) and rejected 29 (72.5%) of these 40 ballot measures. Campaigns sponsored ballot measures that addressed state constitutional language; personhood definitions; restricting, limiting, or regulating abortion; prohibiting public funding for abortion; parental notification; and practitioner requirements. 

The other seven abortion-related ballot measures had the support of organizations that described themselves as pro-choice or pro-reproductive rights. Voters approved four (57%) and rejected three (43%). Campaigns sponsored ballot measures that addressed state constitutional rights; legalizing abortion or expanding abortion timelines; and allowing public funding for abortions.

Some of the most successful abortion-related topics on the ballot were: amendments designed to provide that state constitutions cannot be interpreted to establish a state constitutional right to abortion (4 of 6, or 67%); laws to legalize abortion or expand the timeframe for when an abortion can occur (4 of 6, or 67%); and parental notification laws (4 of 9, or 44%). Before Roe v. Wade in 1973, three abortion-related measures were on the ballot in Michigan, North Dakota, and Washington, and each was designed to allow abortion in its respective state.

The ballot initiative process, in which signatures are collected to place a proposed law on the ballot, was used for 36 of 51 (71%) abortion-related ballot measures through June 2022. Legislatures referred 14 (27%) to the ballot, and a state constitutional convention referred one (2%). The states with the highest numbers of abortion-related ballot measures are Colorado (nine), Oregon (six), Washington (four), and California (three). These states have an initiative and referendum process. States without an initiative and referendum process have never had more than one abortion-related ballot measure.

As of June, state legislatures were responsible for each of the four abortion-related measures on the 2022 ballot. Campaigns for initiatives are collecting signatures in Arizona, Colorado, and Michigan, and a legislative constitutional amendment could make the ballot in California. 

In Vermont, voters will decide on the first ballot measure to establish a state constitutional right to reproductive autonomy. Eileen Sullivan, communications director for the Planned Parenthood Vermont Action Fund, stated, “Justice [Anthony] Kennedy’s retirement prompted action in Vermont, so that these rights in Vermont would be protected no matter what happens in Washington, D.C.” The proposed initiatives in Arizona and Michigan would provide for state constitutional rights to reproductive freedom; in both cases, the term reproductive freedom would be defined to include abortion.

In Kansas and Kentucky, the ballot will feature measures ​​to provide that state constitutions cannot be interpreted to establish a state constitutional right to abortion. In Kansas, for example, the state Supreme Court ruled that the state’s Bill of Rights provided a state constitutional right to abortion. “We see these initiatives as fighting back against activist state courts and neutralizing the state constitutions on the issue,” said Billy Valentine, vice president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America.

In Montana, a ballot measure would provide that “a born-alive infant, including an infant born in the course of an abortion, must be treated as a legal person under the laws of the state.” The ballot measure would require practitioners to provide medical care to born-alive infants.

The deadlines for the remaining abortion-related ballot initiatives that could appear on the ballot this November are July 7 for Arizona, July 11 in Michigan, and August 8 for Colorado. The California State Legislature has until June 30 to place the right to reproductive freedom amendment on the ballot this year.

Additional reading: