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Victoria Antram

Victoria Antram is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

Deadline for Nevada State Legislature to vote on sales and gaming tax measures passes, sending the pair of initiatives to the ballot

The deadline for the Nevada State Legislature to act on two indirect initiated state statutes—the Gaming Tax Increase on Monthly Revenue above $250,000 Initiative and the Sales Tax Increase for Public Schools Initiative—was Friday, March 12. The legislature did not enact the measures by the deadline, which sent them to the ballot in November 2022. In Nevada, the legislature has 40 days from the start of the session to act on indirect initiatives.

Nevadans for Fair Gaming Taxes is sponsoring the Gaming Tax Increase on Monthly Revenue above $250,000 Initiative, which would increase the rate of the fee on monthly gross revenue above $250,000 to 9.75%. Currently, the Nevada Gaming Commission collects a tax on monthly gross revenue from licensed gaming facilities. The tax is imposed according to the following tiers:

• 3.5% on gross revenue of the licensee which does not exceed $50,000 per month,

• 4.5% on gross revenue of the licensee which exceeds $50,000 but does not exceed $134,000 per month, and

• 6.75% on gross revenue of the licensee which exceeds $134,000.

Fund Our Schools is sponsoring the Sales Tax Increase for Public Schools Initiative, which would increase the state’s Local School Support Tax by 1.5 percentage points from 2.25% to 3.75% with revenue dedicated to public schools. An additional 0.35% sales and use tax with dedicated revenues for public education was imposed on June 30, 2015, which brings the total tax to 2.6%. The new total Local School Support Tax under the initiative would be 4.1%.

The initiatives were certified to the legislature in December 2020 after the campaigns submitted more than the 97,598 valid signatures required. Fund Our Schools submitted 190,192 raw signatures. County officials verified that 137,791 signatures, or 72.4%, were valid. Nevadans for Fair Gaming Taxes submitted 201,935 raw signatures. County officials verified the 148,605 signatures, or 73.6%, were valid.

The committees sponsoring the two tax initiatives have received all of their funding from the Clark County Education Association. According to the latest campaign finance filings submitted on January 15, Fund Our Schools reported $1.14 million in cash and in-kind contributions, and Nevadans for Fair Gaming Taxes reported $1.09 million in cash and in-kind contributions.

Clark County Education Association Executive Director John Vellardita said the union is open to other legislative alternatives to fund education. He said, “If there’s an alternative that emerges, and it satisfies what we think needs to be done, we’re going to buy into that alternative.”

Between 1996 and 2020, Nevada ballots have featured 29 initiatives with 21 (72.4%) approved and eight (27.6%) defeated.

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Kentucky legislature certifies amendment to authorize changes to legislative session end dates and special sessions

On March 15, the Kentucky State Legislature voted to send a constitutional amendment to voters in November 2022 that would authorize the legislature to change legislative session end dates through a three-fifths vote in each chamber. It would also authorize the House speaker and Senate president to jointly call a special legislative session for up to 12 days. Currently, the state legislature can only be called into a special session by the governor.

The amendment would remove specific legislative session end dates from the constitution and instead provide that odd-year sessions are limited to 30 legislative days and even-year sessions are limited to 60 legislative days. The amendment would also add that no law would take effect until July 1 in the year it was approved or 90 days after it is signed by the governor, whichever is later. Currently, the state constitution states that laws take effect 90 days after the legislative session in which it was passed adjourns.

This amendment was introduced as House Bill 4 (HB 4) on January 5, 2021. To put a legislatively referred constitutional amendment before voters, a 60 percent vote is required in both the Kentucky State Senate and the Kentucky House of Representatives. The House passed the bill by a vote of 77-16, with seven members not voting, on January 7, 2021. The state Senate passed a different version of the bill on March 1, 2021, in a vote of 31-4, with three members not voting. The House concurred on March 15, 2021.

Republican House Speaker David Osborne, the sponsor of the amendment, said, “If we’re going to be here, then let’s be as effective as we can possibly be. Let’s be as efficient as we can possibly be. … We don’t want to fall into that trap of becoming a full-time legislature. We need to honor the intent of our service as a part-time legislature.”

From 1995 to 2020, 12 measures appeared on the ballot in Kentucky, of which, 10 were approved and two were defeated.

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Austin voters will decide eight ballot measures on May 1, including ranked-choice voting and police oversight

On May 1, Austin, Texas voters will decide eight ballot measures. All but one, Proposition C, were put on the ballot through initiative signature petition drives.

Proposition A was sponsored by the Austin Firefighters Association, Local 975. The measure would amend the city’s charter to require the city and firefighters association to participate in binding arbitration when an agreement cannot be reached through collective bargaining regarding working conditions. The union is set to begin the negotiation process with the city for a new contract in the spring of 2022.

Proposition B was sponsored by Save Austin Now, a bi-partisan PAC founded by Cleo Petricek (D) and Matt Mackowiak, chairman of the Travis County GOP. The measure would make it a criminal offense for anyone to sit, lie down, or camp in public areas and prohibit the solicitation of money or other things of value at specific hours and locations. The measure is in response to a 2019 unanimous vote by the Austin City Council to repeal an ordinance that prohibited sitting, lying, or panhandling in the downtown area. The city council also voted 9-2 to prohibit camping in public areas under certain circumstances.

Save Austin Now campaign said on their website, “Incompetent policy has encouraged aggressive public camping and panhandling that creates unsafe living conditions on the streets and unsafe streets for everyone else.” The measure is opposed by Homes Not Handcuffs. The  Homes Not Handcuffs campaign said, “These laws also make the underlying problems that cause homelessness worse. People wrack up fines and fees that they cannot pay. They are saddled with criminal records, making it more difficult to get housing and employment.”

Proposition C was referred to the ballot in a 10-1 vote of the Austin City Council with Councilmember Mackenzie Kelly opposing the measure. Proposition C would amend the city’s charter to authorize the city council to determine how the director of the Office of Police Oversight is appointed or removed through a city ordinance. Currently, the director of the Office of Police Oversight is appointed by the city manager. Council Member Gregorio Casar, a sponsor of the amendment, said, “If we want police accountability, then we need our police oversight office to be as independent as possible. In other cities, the Office of Police Oversight is independently appointed or is overseen by a civilian board, but right now our options as a city are limited. By making this proposed charter change in May, the community and city council have the opportunity to create more transparency and accountability of our police department in the future.”

Austinites for Progressive Reform sponsored five initiatives related to elections and local governance: 

  • Proposition D would align mayoral elections with presidential election years instead of gubernatorial elections years beginning in 2024.
  • Proposition E would enact ranked-choice voting provided state law allows it.
  • Proposition F would change city governance from a council-manager system to a mayor-council system.
  • Proposition G would add an additional city council district, thereby increasing the total number of city council members from 10 to 11.
  • Proposition H would adopt a public campaign finance program that provides $25 vouchers to registered voters to contribute to campaigns of qualifying candidates.

Austinites for Progressive Reform said, “Our goal is to amend Austin’s city charter to enact proven campaign finance reforms, election reforms, and governance reforms. By doing so, we will increase political participation, increase voter turnout, and make sure our city works for everybody.” 

The last day to register to vote in the election is April 1. Early voting begins on April 19 and runs through April 27. On election day, the polls will be open from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm.

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San Antonio voters to decide whether to repeal collective bargaining for the police union in May

On May 1, San Antonio voters will decide whether to repeal local authority for collective bargaining with the San Antonio Police Officers Association. Currently, under Chapter 174 of state law, cities are allowed to negotiate with police and firefighter unions through collective bargaining to determine compensation, hours, and other conditions of employment. Chapter 174 also contains a provision that prohibits strikes and lockouts and authorizes penalties for such activity. Proposition B would repeal city law adopting those provisions as well.

The measure was placed on the ballot through an initiative sponsored by Fix SAPD. In San Antonio, citizens can place a ballot measure on the ballot through an indirect initiative petition signed by at least 10% of the city’s qualified voters as of the last regular election. If enough signatures are submitted, the initiative is then voted on by the city council. The city council can enact the measure or put it on the ballot. The required number of signatures for 2021 was 20,282.

On January 8, supporters submitted over 28,000 signatures to the city clerk. On February 4, City Clerk Tina Flores announced that the campaign had submitted over 20,282 valid signatures and that the measure had qualified for the May ballot. On February 11, the San Antonio City Council voted to certify the initiative for the ballot.

James Dykman, a board member of Fix SAPD, said, “This is the first step to stronger police accountability in our community. The police association has had too much leverage in negotiations with the city for too long. Under a new system of Meet and Confer, police oversight could sit outside the purview of contract negotiations between the City and the local police association. We could have strong pay and benefits for officers, while protecting citizens and holding bad officers accountable.”

Concerning the certification of the measure for the ballot, the San Antonio Police Officers Association said in a press release, “[San Antonio Police Officers Association] plans on working hard between now and election day to inform voters about how important collective bargaining (Chapter 174) is to recruiting top-notch police officers who will keep our neighborhoods safe and to ensuring the Police Chief and the City continue to have flexibility in hiring, promotions, discipline, and boosting diversity within the Department.”

The last contract between the San Antonio City Council and the San Antonio Police Officers Association was agreed to on September 1, 2016. The council voted 9-2. Contract negotiations to replace the 2016 contract were set to begin on February 12, 2021. If the union and the city reach an agreement before the election, the repeal of Chapter 174 would take effect after the new contract expires.

An alternative to collective bargaining is meet and confer, where there is no requirement that a city and police union reach an agreement regarding wages, benefits, and other working conditions. San Antonio currently has a meet and confer agreement with the San Antonio Park Police Officers Association.

There are 13 top 100 cities by population in Texas. Of those 13 cities, four (Corpus Christi, El Paso, Laredo, and San Antonio) use collective bargaining in police negotiations, four (Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston) use meet and confer, and five (Lubbock, Garland, Arlington, Irving, and Plano) do not have contracts with police unions.

In 2020, Ballotpedia identified 20 police-related measures in 10 cities and four counties within seven states that appeared on local ballots. All 20 were approved. The measures concerned police oversight; the powers and structure of oversight commissions; police practices; law enforcement department structure and administration; reductions in or restrictions on law enforcement budgets; law enforcement training requirements; and body and dashboard camera footage.

On May 1, voters in Austin will also decide a measure, Proposition C, that would establish the position of the Director of Police Oversight in the city charter with the “responsibility to ensure transparency and accountability as it relates to policing.” Details about the selection of the director and staff would be determined by the city council if the measure is approved.

On May 1, San Antonio voters will also decide Proposition A, a charter amendment to permit the city to issue bonds for public improvements, including housing programs for households with incomes below a certain threshold.

The last day to register to vote in the election is April 1. Early in-person voting will begin on April 19 and run through April 27. On election day, the polls will be open from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm.

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Supporters, opponents of Louisiana constitutional amendment on abortion raised over $1 million in 2020

Louisiana Pro-Life Amendment Coalition, the campaign in support of Louisiana Amendment 1, and Louisiana for Personal Freedoms, the opposition campaign, reported receiving a combined total of $1.1 million in contributions for the 2020 election cycle. 

Louisiana voters approved Amendment 1 in November 2020 by a vote of 62.06% to 37.94%. It added language to the Louisiana Constitution stating that “nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.”

According to the latest campaign finance reports filed February 17, Louisiana Pro-Life Amendment Coalition reported $681,191 in contributions. The top donors to the coalition included:
• LA Right to Life Educational Committee – $280,000
• Edward L. Rispone – $50,000
• Donald T. Bollinger – $25,000
• Kenneth Wood Sr. – $25,000
• William Henry Shane Jr. – $20,000

Louisiana for Personal Freedoms reported $428,824 in cash and in-kind contributions. The top donors to the committee included:
• BYP 100 – $150,000
• Open Society – $100,00
• Lift Louisiana – $80,758.12
• Planned Parenthood Action Fund – $51,448
• Catholics for Choice – $5,000

As of 2021, at least 10 states, according to The Guttmacher Institute, provided a state constitutional right to abortion based on court rulings. Ballotpedia has identified six ballot measures to amend state constitutions to declare that nothing in the state constitution provides a right to abortion. In Tennessee (2014), Alabama (2018), West Virginia (2018), and Louisiana (2020), these constitutional amendments were passed. In Massachusetts (1986) and Florida (2012), these constitutional amendments were defeated.

Kansas voters will be deciding a similar measure in August 2022 to state that nothing in the state constitution creates a right to abortion or requires government funding for abortion and that the state legislature has the authority to pass laws regarding abortion. The amendment was a response to the Kansas Supreme Court ruling in Hodes & Nauser v. Schmidt (2019), in which the court decided that the Kansas Bill of Rights includes a right to abortion.

Louisiana Amendment 1 was referred to the ballot by the state legislature in June 2019. A two-thirds vote is needed in each chamber of the Louisiana State Legislature to refer a constitutional amendment.

Committees registered to support or oppose all 129 statewide measures on the ballot in 2020 reported a combined total of $1.23 billion in contributions.

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Burlington, Vermont voters will decide on March 2 whether to adopt ranked-choice voting for city council elections

On March 2, Burlington, Vermont voters will decide Question 4, a measure to implement ranked-choice voting for city council elections beginning in March 2022.

The Burlington City Council attempted to place a ranked-choice voting measure on the November 2020 ballot, but it was vetoed by Mayor Miro Weinberger (D) after receiving a 6-5 vote from the city council. It would have implemented RCV for city council, mayoral, and school commissioner elections. The council amended the measure to only include city council elections and reconsidered it for the March 2021 ballot. It was approved on September 22, 2020. Mayor Weinberger signed the measure on October 3, 2020. 

The vote will be the first time the city voters decide on RCV after repealing it in 2010. In 2005, Burlington voters amended the city’s charter to implement RCV—referred to as instant runoff—for mayoral elections. The 2005 measure was approved by 64% to 36%. It was used in the 2006 and 2009 mayoral elections.

On March 2, 2010, voters repealed ranked-choice by a vote of 52% to 48%. The measure to repeal ranked-choice voting was placed on the ballot through a ballot initiative petition drive after the 2009 mayoral election.

The Yes on 4: Better Ballot Burlington campaign is co-chaired by Former Governor Howard Dean (D) and City Councilmember Zoraya Hightower (Vermont Progressive Party). Hightower said, “I believe [RCV] helps elect leaders that are more representative of our city and cities across the country.” Mayor Weinberger opposes the amended measure saying, “[Prior use of ranked-choice voting] led to campaigns being very hesitant to define differences and distinctions between themselves on substance because of concerns of alienating second and third votes from other candidates. I was a campaign chair of a mayoral election during that period. I just don’t think it worked well.”

A ranked-choice voting system (RCV) is an electoral system in which voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots. If a candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, he or she is declared the winner. If no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated. First-preference votes cast for the failed candidate are eliminated, lifting the second-preference choices indicated on those ballots. A new tally is conducted to determine whether any candidate has won a majority of the adjusted votes. The process is repeated until a candidate wins an outright majority.

As of 2021, one state (Maine) had implemented RCV at the state level, one state (Alaska) had adopted but not implemented RCV, eight states contained jurisdictions that had implemented RCV at some level, and another five states contained jurisdictions—including New York City—that had adopted but not yet implemented RCV in local elections.

All active registered Burlington voters will be receiving an absentee ballot the week of February 8. Voters may return their absentee ballot by mail, drop box, or at an election polling place on March 2. Polling places will be open from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm on election day. Voters may register to vote in-person on election day.

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Kansas voters will decide an amendment in 2022 saying there is no right to abortion in the state constitution

The Kansas State Legislature referred the No Right to Abortion in Constitution Amendment to the August 2, 2022, primary ballot. The amendment will reverse a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court decision that ruled that the Kansas Bill of Rights granted a right to abortion. The amendment would add a section to the Kansas Bill of Rights to state that constitution does not provide a right to abortions and the government is not required to provide funding for abortions. The new section would also add that the state legislature has the authority to pass laws to regulate abortion.

In Kansas, a two-thirds vote in each chamber of the Kansas State Legislature during one legislative session is required to refer a constitutional amendment to the ballot. This amounts to 84 votes in the House and 27 votes in the Senate.

On January 22, 2021, the state House passed HCR 5003 with a vote of 86 to 38 with one absent. All Republicans voted in favor of the amendment, and all but one Democrat that was absent voted against it. The one Independent in the House voted against the amendment as well.

The measure was introduced in the state Senate on January 21, 2021. The state Senate passed the amendment on January 28, 2021, in a vote of 28-11 with one absent. All 11 Democrats voted against the amendment. One Republican was absent, and the remaining 28 Republicans approved the amendment. Proponents refer to the measure as the “Value Them Both Amendment.”

The same amendment was introduced during the 2020 legislative session. After receiving a two-thirds vote in the state Senate, the state House voted 80-43 on the measure, four votes under the required two-thirds.

As of January 2021, court rulings had determined that at least 10 state constitutions provided a state constitutional right to abortion according to The Guttmacher Institute. Ballotpedia has identified six ballot measures to amend state constitutions to declare that nothing in the state constitution provides a right to abortion. The most recent measure was approved in Louisiana in November 2020 with 61.1% of the vote. Tennessee (2014), Alabama (2018), and West Virginia (2018) also previously approved measures to declare no right to an abortion in their respective state constitutions. In Massachusetts (1986) and Florida (2012), similar constitutional amendments were defeated.

From 1995 through 2020, the Kansas Legislature referred ten constitutional amendments to the ballot. Voters approved eight and rejected two of the referred amendments.

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Delaware legislature amends state constitution to prohibit discrimination according to race, color, national origin

On January 28, 2021, the Delaware House of Representatives approved Senate Bill 31 in the final step to amend the state constitution to add a prohibition on discrimination according to race, color, and national origin to the Delaware Bill of Rights.

Unlike any other state, the Delaware State Legislature can amend the constitution without a vote of the people. To amend the state constitution, an amendment requires a two-thirds vote of each chamber in two consecutive sessions of the legislature. The amendment does not require the governor’s signature before becoming effective.

The amendment was first introduced as Senate Bill 191 in February 2020. The Delaware State Senate approved the amendment unanimously on June 16, 2020. The Delaware House of Representatives also approved the amendment unanimously on June 25. The amendment was introduced in the 2021 legislative session on January 12, 2021, as Senate Bill 31. It was approved unanimously again on January 21 by the state Senate and on January 28 by the state House.

The amendment adds “race, color, national origin” to section 21 of Article I of the Delaware Constitution. Section 21 was added to the Bill of Rights in 2019 by House Bill 1. With the recent amendment, the section reads: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged on account of race, color, national origin, or sex.”

The Delaware constitution can also be amended through a constitutional convention. The state legislature can refer the question, “Shall there be a Convention to revise the Constitution and amend the same?” to statewide ballots via a two-thirds vote in each chamber. If the ballot question receives a simple majority vote, then there will be a convention.

In the other 49 other states, the legislature must refer proposed constitutional amendments to the ballot for voter approval. The states have varying requirements for constitutional amendments originating in the legislatures. Some have multiple different processes with separate sets of requirements:

  • Ten states allow a referred amendment to go on the ballot after a majority vote in one session of the state’s legislature.
  • Nine states allow a referred amendment to go on the ballot after a 60% supermajority vote in one session of the state’s legislature.
  • Seventeen states allow a referred amendment to go on the ballot after a two-thirds (66.67 percent) supermajority vote in one session of the state’s legislature.
  • Fifteen states, including Delaware, have a two-session process for proposed constitutional amendments.
  • Four of those states (Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania) have an either/or system: a proposed amendment must be passed by a simple majority in two separate legislative sessions, or by a supermajority vote of one session.

A full list of the different methods state legislatures can amend their constitutions can be found here: https://ballotpedia.org/Legislatively_referred_constitutional_amendment

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Voters approved changes to campaign finance, election dates, election systems, redistricting, suffrage, and term limits in 2020

In 2020, 12 states approved 13 ballot measures related to election policy including changes to campaign finance, election dates, election systems, redistricting, suffrage, and term limits. The measures are listed below according to topic.

Campaign finance:

  • Oregon Measure 107: Measure 107 authorizes the state legislature and local governments to (1) enact laws or ordinances limiting campaign contributions and expenditures; (2) require disclosure of contributions and expenditures; and (3) require that political advertisements identify the people or entities that paid for them. Going into the election, Oregon was one of five states with no limits on campaign contributions.

Election dates:

  • New Mexico Constitutional Amendment 2: The amendment allows the state legislature to pass laws changing election dates of state or county officeholders and altering office terms according to those date changes. Under the measure, laws proposing changes to election dates of non-statewide officeholders must be supported by a legislative finding that such a change would promote consistency or that it would evenly distribute the number of offices appearing on the ballot. In 2019, the New Mexico State Legislature passed House Bill 407, which divided state, county, and judicial elections between presidential and gubernatorial election ballots. These provisions of HB 407 were ruled unconstitutional by the New Mexico Supreme Court in 2019. With the passage of the Amendment, these provisions of HB 407 are now enforceable. HB 407 extended the terms of district attorneys, county offices, and judicial offices.

Election systems:

  • Alaska Ballot Measure 2: Ballot Measure 2 replaced the state’s partisan primaries with open top-four primaries for state executive, state legislative, and congressional offices and established ranked-choice voting for general elections, including the presidential election, in which voters would rank the candidates. Ballot Measure 2 also required persons and entities that contribute more than $2,000 that were themselves derived from donations, contributions, dues, or gifts to disclose the true sources, as defined in the law, of the political contributions.
  • Colorado Proposition 113: In 2019, the Colorado State Legislature passed a bill to add Colorado to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC). The NPVIC was designed to go into effect if states representing at least 270 electoral votes join the NPVIC. Proposition 113 was a referendum on the 2019 law. On November 3, voters upheld the law and voted in favor of adding Colorado to the NPVIC. As of January 2021, the 15 states and DC had joined representing 196 votes.
  • Mississippi Ballot Measure 2: As of 2020, Mississippi required that a candidate for governor or elected state office receive the most votes in a majority of the state’s 122 state House of Representatives districts (known as the electoral vote requirement). Ballot Measure 2 repealed this requirement. Instead, Ballot Measure 2 provided that a candidate for governor or state office must receive a majority vote to win and that a runoff election would be held between the two highest vote-getters in the event that no candidate received a majority vote.

Redistricting:

  • Missouri Amendment 3: Amendment 3 repealed the non-partisan state demographer and returned the state to the use of bipartisan redistricting commissions, with changes to the number and selection of commissioners. The 2020 amendment also maintained the criteria of competitiveness and partisan fairness that was enacted in 2018, but it loosened the partisan fairness requirement and required that population, voter rights abridgment, contiguous districts, simple shapes, and the rules for counties be considered with a higher priority.
  • New Jersey Public Question 3: Question 3 postponed state legislative redistricting until after the election on November 2, 2021, should the state receive federal census data after February 15, 2021. 
  • Virginia Question 1: Question 1 transferred the power to draw the state’s congressional and legislative districts from the state legislature to a redistricting commission composed of state legislators and citizens.

Suffrage:

  • Alabama Amendment 1: Amendment 1 amended the Alabama Constitution to state that “only a citizen” of the U.S. who is 18 years old or older can vote in Alabama.
  • California Proposition 17: Proposition 17 amended the state constitution to allow people with felonies who are on parole to vote; therefore, the ballot measure kept imprisonment as a disqualification for voting but removed parole status. 
  • Colorado Amendment 76: Amendment 76 amended the Colorado Constitution to state that “only a citizen” of the U.S. who is 18 years of age or older can vote in Colorado. The Colorado Legislative Council wrote in the 2020 Blue Book that “under Amendment 76, 17-year-olds who are currently able to vote in primary elections will no longer be eligible to do so.”
  • Florida Amendment 1: Amendment 1 amended the Florida Constitution to state that “only a citizen” of the U.S. who is 18 years old or older can vote in Florida instead of saying that “every citizen” of the U.S. who is 18 years old or older can vote in Florida.

Term limits:

  • Arkansas Issue 2: Issue 2 imposed term limits of 12 consecutive years for state legislators with the opportunity to return after a four-year break. State legislators elected in November 2020 or currently serving would be allowed to serve the former term limit of 16 years.

In 2020, Ballotpedia covered local measures that appeared on the ballot for voters within the top 100 largest cities in the U.S. and a selection of notable election-related measures outside of the top 100 largest cities. Eleven local jurisdictions affecting voters in the top 100 largest cities approved 17 local ballot measures related to election policy. The approved measures in the top 100 largest cities are listed alphabetically by jurisdiction.

Local election policy ballot measures in the top 100 cities:

  • Anchorage, Alaska, Proposition 12: Proposition 12 increased the Anchorage Assembly from 11 to 12 members. The change will take effect the adoption of a final state redistricting plan by the Redistricting Board of the State of Alaska following the official reporting of the 2020 census.
  • Chandler, Arizona, Proposition 426: Proposition 426 amended the city’s charter to say that primary, regular, and special elections may be held on election dates authorized by state law. State law requires primary elections to be held on the 1st Tuesday of August before the general election. Before the election, the Chandler City Charter said that the city’s municipal primary election shall be held on the 10th Tuesday before the general election.
  • Miami-Dade County, Florida, Referendum 2: Referendum 2 amended the county charter to establish that if a mayor or county commission member resigns to run for another office the vacancy must be filled during the next primary and general election rather than through appointment or a special election.
  • Baltimore, Maryland, Question I: Question I allows the city council to remove council members, the council president, the mayor, or the comptroller by a three-fourths vote of council members upon charges brought by the mayor, the city council committee on legislative investigations, the inspector general, or a petition signed by 20% of qualified voters in the city.
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota, Question 2: Question 2 amended the city charter to state that special municipal elections to fill vacancies must be held on one of the state-set uniform election dates that is at least 90 days after the vacancy occurs.
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota, Question 1: Question 1 amended the city charter to establish city council elections in 2021 and 2023 for two-year terms instead of four-year terms with four-year term elections restarting in 2025 and to use this method whenever regular city council elections do not fall in a year ending in a 3 so as to comply with a state law designed to require city council elections in years ending in 2 or 3 after a census.
  • St. Louis, Missouri, Proposition D: Proposition D made elections open and non-partisan for the offices of mayor, comptroller, president of the Board of Aldermen, and the Board of Aldermen; changed from a plurality voting system to an approval voting system, whereby voters may vote for any number of candidates they prefer; and required a runoff general election for the top two candidates.
  • Oakland, California, Measure QQ: Measure QQ allowed the city council to pass an ordinance to allow 16-year-olds to vote for the office of the school board director.
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Proposition 1: Proposition 1 made the following changes:
    • changed the names of “primary” and “general” elections to “general” and “runoff” elections throughout; 
    • set the regular general election date for mayoral elections to be the second the Tuesday in February in 2022 and every four years going forward instead of the existing primary mayoral election date set as the second Tuesday in March; 
    • set the regular general election date for city council elections to be the second Tuesday in odd-numbered years instead of the existing primary city council election date set as the first Tuesday in March; 
    • set the regular runoff election date for both mayoral and city council elections as the first Tuesday in April immediately following the general election if required; 
    • added specific processes for if the city council creates more than eight city wards; and 
    • established that elected officers take office four weeks after the runoff election rather than one week.
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Proposition 2: Proposition 2 required that a candidate be a resident of the city for one year before filing for candidacy instead of three years before the election date; required that a candidate be a registered voter in the city (for mayor) or the relevant ward (for city council) for one year before filing for candidacy, while existing provisions require residency in the relevant ward for six months; and explicitly stated that qualification requirements, including citizenship and age requirements, apply at the time of filing a declaration of candidacy.
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Proposition 3: Proposition amended the city charter to change the deadline to fill the vice mayor position through a majority vote of the city council from 15 days to 30 days.
  • Riverside, California Measure Q: Measure Q made the following changes:
    • required the city council to make an appointment to fill a vacancy for an elected office with up to one year left in the term;
    • required a special election to fill a vacancy for an elected office with more than one year left in the term;
    • established a process for a runoff election if no candidate receives a majority of votes in the special election to fill a vacancy; and
    • prohibited appointed officials from making references indicating they are incumbents for future elections to the same seat.
  • Riverside, California, Measure R: Measure R consolidated city council and mayor elections with state primary and general elections and allowed for temporary adjustments to term lengths and election dates to carry out the consolidation.
  • Riverside, California, Measure S: Measure S required the city council to submit any charter amendments they propose—not those initiated through a signature petition—to the charter review commission in order to receive a recommendation before the city council refers them to voters.
  • Sacramento, California, Measure B: Measure B created a one-time exception for the redistricting deadline after the 2020 census to account for COVID-19 census delays by allowing the city’s redistricting commission until 130 days before the 2022 primary election to complete redistricting and create a map to be used at the 2022 primary election.
  • San Diego Unified School District, California, Measure C: Measure C established that school district board members are elected by sub-district in both primary and general elections rather than running by sub-district in primaries but being elected by the entire district in the general election.
  • San Diego Unified School District, California, Measure D: Measure D added San Diego Unified School District board members under the city’s rules for removing elected officials for cause and filling the vacancies.

Five local jurisdictions outside of the top 100 largest cities approved ranked-choice voting measures in 2020.

Ranked-choice voting measures outside of top 100 cities:

  • Albany, California, Measure BB: Measure BB authorized the use of ranked-choice voting for city elections for members of the city council and the board of education.
  • Bloomington, Minnesota, Question 3: Question 3 amended the city charter to elect the mayor and city council members through ranked-choice voting.
  • Boulder, Colorado, Measure 2E: Measure 2E amended the city charter to elect the mayor through ranked-choice voting.
  • Eureka, California, Measure C: Measure C amended the city charter to require ranked-choice voting for electing the mayor and councilmembers.
  • Minnetonka, Minnesota, Question 1: Question 1 amended the city charter to elect the mayor and city council members through ranked-choice voting.

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Right to repair supporters and opponents raise $51.5 million in contributions, making it the most expensive ballot measure in recent Massachusetts history

The Right to Repair Coalition and the Coalition for Safe and Secure Data received a combined $51.5 million in contributions this election cycle, making Massachusetts Question 1 the most expensive measure in the state for at least the last 15 years. Final campaign finance reports for Massachusetts 2020 ballot measure committees were filed on Jan. 20.

Question 1 amended a 2013 “right to repair law.” The amended question required manufacturers that sell vehicles with telematics systems in Massachusetts to equip them with a standardized system beginning with model year 2022. Vehicle owners and independent repair facilities may access the standardized system to retrieve mechanical data and run diagnostics through a mobile-based application. It was approved with a margin of 74.97% to 25.03%.

The Right to Repair Coalition, the sponsor of Question 1, reported $24.9 million in contributions. The top donors to the campaign included:

  • Auto Care Association ($4.6 million)
  • Coalition of Automotive Repair Equality ($4.2 million)
  • AutoZone ($3 million)
  • O’Reilly Auto Parts ($3 million)
  • Advance Auto Parts ($3 million)
  • Genuine Parts Company ($3 million)

The Coalition for Safe and Secure Data registered in opposition to Question 1 and reported $26.6 million in contributions. The top donors to the campaign included:

  • General Motors ($5.5 million)
  • Toyota Motor North America, Inc ($4.5 million)
  • Ford Motor Company ($4.5 million)
  • American Honda Motor Co., Inc ($3.0 million)
  • Nissan North America Inc. ($2.4 million)

The Right to Repair Coalition sponsored a 2012 initiative. The measure led to a legislative compromise in 2013. A legislative alternative to the initiative was approved on July 31, 2012, after the July 3 initiative signature deadline, so the initiative still appeared on the ballot and received 87.7% of the vote. The 2013 legislative compromise was approved on Nov. 26, 2013. The committees registered in support of the 2012 initiative reported $2.3 million in contributions, and those registered in opposition reported over $307,000.

The top five most expensive measures by total contributions (support and opposition) in Massachusetts since 2006 are as follows:

  • $44.3 million for Question 2, Authorization of Additional Charter Schools and Charter School Expansion (2006)
  • $37.2 million for Question 1, Nurse-Patient Assignment Limits Initiative (2018)
  • $15.8 million for Question 3, Casino Repeal Initiative (2014)
  • $10.7 million for Question 2, Expansion of Bottle Deposits Initiative (2014)
  • $10.2 million for Question 2, Ranked-Choice Voting Initiative (2020)

In 2020, committees registered to support or oppose all of the 129 statewide measures reported a combined total of $1.2 billion in contributions and $1.02 billion in expenditures. Massachusetts ballot measure campaigns raised the third largest amount in contributions compared to other states with a total of $61.6 million. California campaigns raised the most with $739 million, and Illinois campaigns raised the second most with $121.2 million.

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