CategoryBallot measures

New Yorkers reject redistricting and voting ballot measures, approve environmental rights amendment

On November 2, voters in New York passed two constitutional amendments and rejected three.  The approved measures were Proposal 2, an environmental rights amendment, and Proposal 5, a judicial measure. Voters rejected Proposal 1 concerning redistricting processes and Proposal 3 and Proposal 4, which would have allowed for same-day voter registration and no-excuse absentee voting.

With 99% of precincts reporting, Proposal 2 received 68.9% of the vote. Proposal 2 added a right to clean water, clean air, and a healthful environment to the New York Constitution’s Bill of Rights. As of 2021, at least six state constitutions included language on environmental rights, including neighboring Pennsylvania. 

Proposal 5 received 62.9% of the vote. It allowed the New York City Civil Court to hear and decide lawsuits involving claims of $50,000, rather than the current threshold of $25,000. The New York City Civil Court is a trial court with jurisdiction in New York City. The NYC Civil Court’s original jurisdiction was on claims of $10,000 or less. Voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1983 that increased the court’s jurisdiction from $10,000 to $25,000. In 1995, voters rejected a constitutional amendment to increase the NYC Civil Court claims jurisdiction from $25,000 to $50,000.

Proposal 3 and Proposal 4 addressed voting policies and were rejected by 57.7% and 55.8% of voters, respectively, according to results on election night. Proposal 3 would have removed the requirement that persons must register to vote at least ten days before an election, thus authorizing the state legislature to pass a statute for a requirement of fewer than 10 days, such as same-day voter registration. Proposal 4 would have authorized the state legislature to pass a statute for no-excuse absentee voting.

Proposal 1 would have made several changes to redistricting in New York. With 99% of precincts reporting, 55.8% voted “No” on Proposal 1. The constitutional amendment would have changed the vote thresholds for adopting redistricting plans when one political party controls both legislative chambers. It would have also

  1. required that incarcerated persons be counted at the place of their last residence for redistricting;
  2. required the state to count residents, including people who are residents but not citizens, should the federal census fail to do so;
  3. removed the block-on-border requirement for Senate districts;
  4. capped the number of state senators at 63; and
  5. moved up the timeline for redistricting and repealed inoperative language.

Between 1995 and 2020, New York voters addressed 25 constitutional amendments, approving 19 (76%) of them. At the 2021 election, voters approved 2 of 5 amendments or 40%. 



Ballotpedia’s top 15 ballot measures to watch in 2021

Statewide ballot measures

A total of 39 statewide ballot measures were certified for the 2021 ballot in nine states, 24 of which will be decided by voters on Nov. 2.

Maine Question 1:

Question 1 was designed to stop the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC), a 145-mile long, high-voltage transmission line project that would transmit around 1,200 megawatts from hydroelectric plants in Quebec to electric utilities in Massachusetts and Maine. Construction of NECEC began after the project received a presidential permit on Jan. 15, 2021. The ballot initiative would prohibit the construction of high-impact electric transmission lines in the Upper Kennebec Region, retroactive to September 16, 2020, thus prohibiting Segment 1 of NECEC. Segment 1 was permitted to begin construction on May 13, 2021.

Support and opposition campaigns for Question 1 raised more than $94 million combined. According to the Bangor Daily News, Question 1 is the most expensive ballot measure in Maine history, and second most expensive political election after the $200-million U.S. Senate race in 2020. Sponsors of the measure hired Revolution Field Strategies to collect signatures for the petition to qualify this measure for the ballot. A total of $2,048,794.68 was spent to collect the 63,067 valid signatures required to put this measure before voters, resulting in a total cost per required signature (CPRS) of $32.49.

Colorado Proposition 119:

Proposition 119 would create the Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress Program, also known as the LEAP Program, and would increase the marijuana retail sales tax incrementally from 15% to 20% to partially fund the program.

The program would provide out-of-school services that would consist of but not be limited to the following:

  • tutoring in core subject areas,
  • instruction in English and foreign languages,
  • career and technical training,
  • emotional and physical therapy,
  • mental health services,
  • special support for students with special needs, and
  • mentoring.

Measures that can go on the ballot during odd years in Colorado are limited to topics that concern taxes or state fiscal matters arising under TABOR, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (Section 20 of Article X of the Colorado Constitution). This requirement was added to state statute in 1994. Two other initiatives were set to appear on Colorado’s 2021 ballot on November 2.

New York Proposal 2:

Proposal 2 would add a right to clean water, clean air, and a healthful environment to the New York Constitution’s Bill of Rights. As of 2021, six states had state constitutions that included environmental rights amendments: Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Montana, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

Maine Question 3:

Question 3 would amend the Maine Constitution’s Declaration of Rights to declare that individuals have a “natural, inherent and unalienable right to food,” including:

  • “the right to save and exchange seeds” and
  • “the right to grow, raise, harvest, produce and consume the food of their own choosing for their own nourishment, sustenance, bodily health and well-being[.]”

Question 3 would not provide a right to harvest, produce, or acquire food in cases in which an individual commits trespassing, theft, poaching, or “other abuses of private property rights, public lands or natural resources.”

Texas Proposition 6:

Proposition 6 would amend the Texas Constitution to state that residents of nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, or state-supported living centers have a right to designate an essential caregiver that may not be prohibited from visiting the resident. It would also authorize the Texas State Legislature to pass guidelines for facilities to establish visitation policies and procedures for essential caregivers.

The amendment was introduced in response to restrictions put in place in March 2020 as a response to the coronavirus pandemic. On March 15, 2020, Texas Health and Human Services Commission ordered nursing facilities to prohibit non-essential visitors from accessing facilities. At that time, the order applied to 1,222 licensed and regulated nursing facilities serving about 90,000 residents and an additional 2,000 assisted living facilities in Texas.

New York Proposal 1:

The constitutional amendment would:

  • (a) change the vote thresholds for adopting redistricting plans when one political party controls both legislative chambers;
  • (b) require that incarcerated persons be counted at the place of their last residence for redistricting;
  • (c) require the state to count residents, including people who are residents but not citizens, should the federal census fail to do so;
  • (d) remove the block-on-border requirement for Senate districts;
  • (e) cap the number of state senators at 63; and
  • (f) move up the timeline for redistricting and repeal inoperative language.

In New York, a constitutional amendment must be approved by the legislature during two successive legislative sessions with an election for state legislators in between to go before voters. The constitutional amendment was passed in 2020 and 2021. In the Senate during the 2021 session, Democrats supported the amendment, while Republicans voted against the proposal. In the Assembly, 99 Democrats, along with one member of the Independence Party, voted to refer the amendment. Republicans, along with seven Democrats, voted against the measure.

New York Proposal 3:

The ballot measure would remove the requirement that persons must register to vote at least ten days before an election. This change would allow the New York State Legislature to pass a statute for same-day voter registration. Same-day voter registration enables voters to register and vote at the same time. Same-day registration is sometimes referred to as Election Day registration. As of 2021, New York is one of 30 states that does not provide for same-day voter registration. The other 20 states, along with D.C., allow same-day voter registration.

The constitutional amendment was passed in 2019 and 2021. In both years, the votes were largely along party lines, with Democrats supporting the same-day voter registration amendment and Republicans opposing it.

New York Proposal 4:

The ballot measure would authorize the New York State Legislature to pass a statute for no-excuse absentee voting, meaning any registered voter could request and vote with an absentee ballot. As of 2021, the New York Constitution requires voters to be absent from their home county, ill, or physically disabled to vote with an absentee ballot. As of 2021, New York is one of 16 states that require voters to provide an excuse to receive an absentee ballot. Of the remaining states, 29 provide for no-excuse absentee voting and six states use mail-in voting, meaning every registered voter receives a mail-in ballot.

The constitutional amendment was passed in 2019 and 2021. Legislative Democrats supported the constitutional amendment during both sessions. In 2019, 75.8% of legislative Republicans voted to refer the constitutional amendment. In 2021, 31.8% of legislative Republicans voted to refer the constitutional amendment.

New Jersey Public Question 1:

Public Question 1 would allow wagering on college sport competitions. Currently, the state constitution permits sports betting except on games held in N.J. and on games featuring N.J.-based college teams. Therefore, the ballot measure would expand sports betting to include all college sport competitions.

As of July 2021, sports betting was legal, or laws to legalize had been approved, in 30 states and D.C. In New Jersey, sports betting was legalized via Public Question 1 in 2011 but, due to federal law, was not implemented until after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Murphy v. NCAA. While Public Question 1 permitted sports betting in New Jersey, the constitutional amendment prohibited wagering on college games that take place in New Jersey or games that involve New Jersey-based college teams.

Local ballot measures

In 2021, Ballotpedia is covering local measures that appear on the ballot for voters within the top 100 largest cities in the U.S. and all state capitals, including those outside of the top 100 largest cities. Ballotpedia is also covering a selection of notable police-related and election-related measures outside of the top 100 largest cities. Ballotpedia is also covering all local measures in California.

Additionally, in 2021, Ballotpedia is covering a selection of local police-related measures concerning police oversight, the powers and structure of oversight commissions, police practices, law enforcement department structure and administration, law enforcement budgets, law enforcement training requirements, law enforcement staffing requirements, and body and dashboard camera footage.

Minneapolis Question 2:

Question 2 would replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a new Department of Public Safety (DPS). The DPS would be responsible for “a comprehensive public health approach to safety,” including the employment of licensed police officers if needed to fulfill the department’s responsibilities. A Commissioner of Public Safety would lead the DPS and be nominated by the mayor and approved by the city council. The ballot initiative would also provide for the fire police to be housed with the DPS. Question 2 would remove the minimum funding requirement for police (0.0017 per resident) from the Minneapolis Charter.

Austin Proposition A:

Proposition A would:

  • establish minimum police staffing and require there to be at least two police officers for every 1,000 residents of Austin;
  • add an additional 40 hours of police training each year on topics such as active shooter scenarios, critical thinking, and defensive tactics; and
  • provide police with additional compensation for being proficient in non-English languages, enrolling in cadet mentoring programs, and being recognized for honorable conduct.

Detroit Proposal R:

Proposal R would create a city reparations committee tasked with making recommendations for housing and economic development programs for Black Detroit residents. On June 15, 2021, the Detroit City Council unanimously passed a resolution that “establishes a reparations process to, within the next year, develop short, medium and long term recommendations to specifically address the creation of generational wealth and to boost economic mobility and opportunity in the black community.”

Detroit Proposal E:

Proposal E would decriminalize the possession and therapeutic use of entheogenic plants, including psilocybin mushrooms, peyote, and iboga, and declare that police shall treat the possession and use of entheogenic plants by adults among the lowest law enforcement priorities.

Proposal E was written with the term entheogenic plants. In 1979, five academics, including Carl A. P. Ruck and Daniel Staples of Boston University, proposed the term entheogens to describe “states of shamanic and ecstatic possession induced by mind-altering drugs.” “In a strict sense,” wrote the academics, “only those vision-producing drugs that can be shown to have figured in shamanic or religious rites would be designated entheogens, but in a looser sense, the term could also be applied to other drugs, both natural and artificial, that induce alterations of consciousness similar to those documented for ritual ingestion of traditional entheogens.” Ruck et al. described the term hallucinogen as having a biased, negative meaning: “The verb ‘hallucinate,’ however, immediately imposes a value judgment upon the nature of the altered perceptions, for it means ‘to be deceived or entertain false notions.'”

One state, Oregon, has approved a legal psilocybin program. Oregon voters also approved a measure to decriminalize drugs in 2020. At least 10 local governments, including Ann Arbor in Michigan, have passed laws that decriminalized psilocybin or changed law enforcement priorities regarding psilocybin. Two of these laws passed as ballot measures in Denver, Colorado, and Washington, D.C.

Columbus Issue 7:

The measure would create several funds related to energy, allocate a total of $87 million to the funds, and allow the initiative sponsors to designate recipients of certain funds to then distribute:

  • Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency Fund – $10 million;
  • Clean Energy Education and Training Fund – $10 million;
  • Minority Business Enterprise Clean Energy Development Fund – $10 million; and
  • Columbus Clean Energy Partnership Fund – $57 million – for subsidies to electricity customers.

Denver Initiated Ordinance 303:

Initiated Ordinance 303, also referred to as the Let’s Do Better initiative, would ban camping on private property without written permission from the property owner, requiring the city to enforce unauthorized camping, and allowing the city to establish up to four authorized camping locations on public property with lighting, running water, and restroom facilities to support the homeless population of the city.

This measure was put on the ballot through a citizen initiative petition proposed by Garrett Flicker, chair of the Denver Republican Party. GOP leaders backed a homeless-related camping ban initiative in Austin earlier this year.

Additional reading:



How will Maine Question 1 stack up to prior measures in terms of cost-per-vote?

Maine Question 1, a citizen-initiated measure designed to prohibit the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC), could see one of the highest cost-per-vote ratios for a ballot measure that Ballotpedia has recorded. The most recent campaign finance reports, which cover through Sept. 30, show that more than $71.82 million has been raised between supporters and opponents of Question 1. With Maine’s population of 1.36 million residents, contributions received were equivalent to $52.71 per resident.

For comparison, California Proposition 22, passed in 2020, is the most expensive ballot measure on record. Over $224.25 million was raised for and against Proposition 22, which was about $5.67 per California resident. At the election, 16.99 million people voted on Proposition 22, giving it a cost-per-vote ratio of $13.11 per vote. Alaska Ballot Measure 1, which would have increased taxes on oil production fields, had the highest cost-per-vote in 2020 at $64.64 per vote.

In Maine, turnout at odd-year referendum elections varied between 17 and 34 percent over the three prior election cycles. With about 1.14 million registered voters, based on the last published count in 2020, turnout would be between 203,000 and 380,000 voters based on the prior cycles. That would lead to a $189 to $353-per-vote projection for Maine Question 1. Maine turnout could exceed the three prior cycles, and Question 1 campaigns could still yet receive an influx of contributions. 

Ballotpedia has been conducting a cost-per-vote analysis for ballot measures since 2018. Three of the five top measures addressed policies related to energy. Since then, the following are the top five measures in terms of cost-per-vote:

Nevada Question 3 (2018) had a cost-per-vote of $100.85. Question 3 was defeated. It would have required the state legislature to pass laws to establish “an open, competitive retail electric energy market” and prohibited the state from granting electrical-generation monopolies.

Alaska Ballot Measure 1 (2020) had a cost-per-vote of $64.64. Measure 1 was defeated. It would have increased taxes on at least three oil production fields.

Montana I-185 (2018) had a cost-per-vote of $51.30. Initiative 185 was defeated. It would have increased the tobacco tax to fund Medicaid expansion.

Ohio Issue 2 (2017) had a cost-per vote of $37.79. Issue 2 was defeated. It would have required state agencies and programs to purchase prescription drugs at prices no higher than what the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) pays for them.

Arizona Proposition 127 (2018) had a cost-per vote of $23.80. It was defeated. Proposition 127 would have required electric utilities in Arizona to acquire a certain percentage of electricity from renewable resources each year, with the percentage increasing annually from 12 percent in 2020 to 50 percent in 2030.

Additional reading:



Denver voters to decide 13 ballot measures on Nov. 2, including 5 citizen initiatives

Thirteen ballot measures are on the ballot in Denver on Nov. 2, 2021. The Denver City Council referred eight of the measures to the ballot. The referrals include five bond measures totaling $450 million proposed by Mayor Michael Hancock. Initiative proponents put five measures on the ballot through signature petition drives. Two of the initiatives, Initiated Ordinances 303 and 304 were proposed by Garrett Flicker, chair of the Denver Republican Party.

Summaries of the 13 measures are below:

Initiated Ordinance 300: Increases the Denver retail marijuana sales tax (1.5% as of 2021) by $7 million annually to fund pandemic research, preparedness, and recovery

Initiated Ordinance 301: Requires voter approval for commercial or residential development on city parklands or lands under conservation easement

Initiated Ordinance 302: Amends the definition of “conservation easement” to apply only to those that have been approved by the Division of Conservation and that have received an income tax credit certificate; requires voter approval for residential or commercial construction on city parklands or property protected by a conservation easement with exceptions for limited construction on conservation easement properties

Initiated Ordinance 303: Bans camping on private property without written permission from the property owner, requires the city to enforce unauthorized camping, and allows the city to establish up to four authorized camping locations on public property with lighting, running water, and restroom facilities to support the homeless population of the city

Initiated Ordinance 304: Lowers the sales and use tax rate in Denver from 4.81% to 4.5% and limits the aggregate sales and use tax in Denver to 4.5%; requires the city to reduce sales and use taxes if Denver voters approve other tax increases to maintain the 4.5% cap

Referred Question 2A: Authorizes Denver to issue $104.04 million in bonds for repairs, improvements, and additions to the Denver Facilities System, such as at the Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and the Denver Zoo

Referred Question 2B: Authorizes Denver to issue $38.6 million in bonds for repairs, improvements, and additions to the Denver Housing and Sheltering System

Referred Question 2C: Authorizes Denver to issue $63.32 million in bonds for repairs, improvements, and additions (such as a new walkway in downtown Denver) to the Denver Transportation and Mobility System

Referred Question 2D: Authorizes $54.07 million in bonds for repairs, improvements, and additions to the Denver Parks and Recreation System

Referred Question 2E: Authorizes Denver to issue $190 million in bonds for repairs, improvements, and additions (such as a new multi-use arena for concerts and sporting events) to the National Western Campus Facilities System

Referred Question 2F: Repeals Ordinance No. 2020-0888, known as the Group Living Ordinance, which amended the Denver Zoning Code and regulations concerning residential care facilities, corrections facilities locations, and the number of unrelated adults who can live together in one house

Referred Question 2G: Transfers the power to appoint the Independent Monitor to The Office of the Independent Monitor, which is responsible for disciplinary investigations concerning the Denver police and sheriff’s departments, from the mayor to the Citizen Oversight Board

Referred Question 2H: Changes the odd-year general election date for Denver from the first Tuesday of May to the first Tuesday in April

Ballots are set to be mailed to Colorado voters beginning on Oct. 8. Ballots must be received by the Denver Elections Division by 7 p.m. on Election Day (Nov. 2). The Elections Division recommends mailing ballots out by Oct. 25 to ensure they will be received by the deadline or dropping them off at one of the 24-hour ballot drop boxes located throughout the city, which opened on Oct. 8. In-person polling places in Denver will begin opening on Oct. 18. Voters in line by 7 p.m. on election day will be able to vote.

In 2021, Ballotpedia is covering local measures that appear on the ballot for voters within the top 100 largest cities in the U.S. and all state capitals, including those outside of the top 100 largest cities. Ballotpedia is also covering all local ballot measures in California.

Denver voters will also see the three statewide initiatives that were certified for the Nov. 2 ballot.

  • Proposition 119 would create an out-of-school education program and increase the marijuana sales tax rate to partially fund the program.
  • Proposition 120 would reduce property tax rates and authorize the state to retain $25 million in revenue above the state’s TABOR spending cap for five years, which it would otherwise be required to refund to taxpayers.
  • Amendment 78 would transfer the power to appropriate custodial funds (state revenue not generated through taxes) from the state treasurer to the state legislature.

Measures that can go on the statewide ballot in Colorado during odd years are limited to topics that concern taxes or state fiscal matters arising under TABOR, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

Additional reading:



Juneau voters approve sales tax renewal measure

Photo of the city of Juneau, Alaska

Voters in Juneau approved a measure on October 5 that renewed for five years (until June 30, 2027) the city’s 3% sales tax set to expire on July 1, 2022. The measure continued the existing total sales tax rate of 5%. The measure was put on the ballot through a vote of the Juneau Assembly.

With 40% of ballots counted on October 9, the vote was 3,560 (80%) in favor to 885 (20%) against. Official election results are expected to be available on October 19, 2021.

The 3% sales tax revenues will be distributed as follows:

  1. One percent for police, fire, emergency and ambulance services, street maintenance and snow removal, parks and recreation, libraries, and other general purposes;
  2. One percent for roads, drainage, maintaining walls, sidewalks, and stairs, as well as other capital improvements; and
  3. One percent tobe allocated annually by the assembly for capital improvements, an emergency budget reserve, and other general public services.

Voters last renewed the 3% temporary tax in Oct. 2016 in a vote of 76% to 24%. At the same election in 2016, voters rejected a measure 66% to 34% that would have made the 3% sales tax permanent. Juneau Budget Analyst Adrien Speegle estimated the tax generates $30 million per year.



Maine Question 1, transmission lines initiative, sees $71.82 million in contributions

The support and opposition campaigns of Maine Question 1, which voters will decide on Nov. 2, 2021, have raised a combined total of $71.82 million in contributions through Sept. 30. The next deadline to report contributions and expenditures is Oct. 22.

Maine Question 1 would prohibit the construction of electric transmission lines defined as high-impact in the Upper Kennebec Region, including the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC). The citizen-initiated ballot measure would also require a two-thirds vote of each state legislative chamber to approve high-impact electric transmission line projects.

Question 1 was designed to stop the NECEC, a 145-mile long, high-voltage transmission line project that would transmit around 1,200 megawatts from hydroelectric plants in Quebec to electric utilities in Massachusetts and Maine. Construction of the NECEC began after the project received a presidential permit on Jan. 15, 2021. The ballot initiative would prohibit the construction of high-impact electric transmission lines in the Upper Kennebec Region, retroactive to Sept. 16, 2020, thus prohibiting Segment 1 of the NECEC.

No CMP Corridor is leading the campaign in support of Question 1. The PAC Mainers for Local Power is also registered to support the ballot initiative. Together, the PACs had raised $16.64 million, including

  • $13.67 million from NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, which owns a natural gas-fired plant in Cumberland, Maine, and six solar fields or projects in southern and central Maine;
  • $1.41 million from Vistra Energy Corp., which owns a natural gas-fired plant in Veazie, Maine; and
  • $1.25 million from Calpine Corp., which owns a natural gas-fired plant in Westbrook, Maine.

The PACs Clean Energy Matters, Hydro-Québec Maine Partnership, Vote No to Protect Maine, and Mainers for Fair Laws are registered to oppose the ballot initiative. Together, the PACs had raised $55.18 million, including

  • $39.28 million from Central Maine Power (CMP), NECEC Transmission LLC, and the companies’ parent firm Avangrid; and
  • $13.53 million from H.Q. Energy Services (U.S.) Inc., which is a subsidiary of Hydro-Québec.

Based on the 2020 Census, the state’s population is 1.36 million. With $71.82 million in contributions, an equivalent of $52.71 had been raised per state resident. According to the Bangor Daily News, Question 1 is the second most expensive political election in Maine history, only following the 2020 U.S. Senate race. 

Maine Question 1 is the most expensive ballot measure of 2021 thus far. The second most expensive is Colorado Proposition 119, for which supporters and opponents have raised $1.36 million in contributions.

Additional reading:



78% fewer local ballot measures on Nov. 2 ballots in California than average since 2009

On Nov. 2, voters in 15 different cities, school districts, and special districts in 10 different California counties will decide 16 local ballot measures.

The average number of local California ballot measures on the November ballot in odd-numbered years since 2009 was 74. In 2019, there were 45, and in 2017 there were 62.

One measure concerns election dates for a school district in Los Angeles County. One measure in Woodside is a citizen initiative related to parking and gathering places in residentially zoned areas. One measure in Santa Cruz would allocate 20% of revenue generated by a marijuana business tax approved by voters in 2014 to youth and early childhood development programs and services. The remaining 13 measures would approve tax increases or renewals.

  • Eight of the November measures are parcel taxes, which are a type of property tax unique to California that is based on units of property or property characteristics rather than assessed value.
  • Two are utility tax measures.
  • One is a sales tax measure.
  • One is a hotel tax measure.
  • One is a real estate transfer tax measure.

None of the measures are bond issues. California law requires voter approval of certain local taxes and bonds.

Nov. 2 is the seventh local ballot measure election date in California so far in 2021. Including the 16 measures on the ballot in November, Ballotpedia has covered 43 local ballot measures in California in 2021. In 2019, there were 78. In 2017, there were 135. The average number of local measures during even-numbered years was 759 over the last three cycles.

In 2021, Ballotpedia is covering local measures that appear on the ballot for voters within the top 100 largest cities in the U.S. and all state capitals, including those outside of the top 100 largest cities. Ballotpedia is also covering a selection of notable police-related and election-related measures outside of the top 100 largest cities. Ballotpedia is also covering all local measures in California and all statewide ballot measures.

Additional reading:



Ballot Bulletin: California becomes eighth state to implement universal, automatic mail-in voting

Welcome to The Ballot Bulletin, where we track developments in election policy at the federal, state, and local level. In this month’s issue:

  1. California becomes eighth state to implement universal, automatic mail-in voting
  2. Redistricting round-up: Oregon becomes the first state to enact congressional district maps after the 2020 census (and other news)
  3. Legislation update

Have a question/feedback/or just want to say hello? Respond to this email, or drop me a line directly at Jerrick@Ballotpedia.org.


California becomes eighth state to implement universal, automatic mail-in voting

On Sept. 27, 2021, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed AB37 into law, making California the eighth state to provide for universal, automatic mail-in voting in all future elections. Under the new law, local election officials must automatically deliver mail-in ballots to all registered voters. In addition, AB37 modified the mail-in ballot return deadline. Ballots are considered “timely cast” if voted on or before Election Day and, when mailed, received by election officials no later than seven days after Election Day. Previously, the receipt deadline for ballots returned by mail was three days after Election Day. The law does not preclude people from voting in person.

On Sept. 2, 2021, the California Senate voted 30-7 to approve AB37. On Sept. 3, 2021, the California State Assembly followed suit, voting 60-17 in favor of the bill.

Secretary of State Shirley Weber (D) said: “Voters like having options for returning their ballot whether by mail, at a secure drop box, a voting center or at a traditional polling station. And the more people who participate in elections, the stronger our democracy and the more we have assurance that elections reflect the will of the people of California.” 

Meanwhile, California GOP Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson said: “It’s no secret that Democrats have and will continue to try to manipulate election regulations for their political advantage. Republicans will hold them accountable through our election integrity operations – including litigation, where appropriate – and by recruiting and supporting candidates who will provide solutions to California’s numerous challenges.”

In the 2020 election cycle, California implemented universal, automatic mail-in voting on a temporary basis in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The state also implemented universal, automatic mail-in voting in this year’s gubernatorial recall.

Seven other states have implemented permanent all-mail voting systems: Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and Washington.


Redistricting round-up: Oregon becomes the first state to enact congressional district maps after the 2020 census (and other news)

In today’s round-up, we take a look at the following recent developments: 

  • Oregon becomes the first state to enact congressional district maps after the 2020 census.
  • Colorado redistricting commission approves final congressional map.
  • Ohio redistricting commission approves state legislative district maps on party-line vote.

Oregon: Oregon becomes first state to enact congressional maps after 2020 census 

On Sept. 27, Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed new congressional and state legislative district maps into law, making Oregon the first state to enact new congressional maps in the current redistricting cycle. The state Senate approved the new congressional map 18-6. The state House of Representatives approved the new map 33-16. The state Senate approved the new legislative map 18-11. The House approved the new map 31-18. According to The Oregonian, the new congressional map creates three safe Democratic districts, one safe Republican district, one district that leans Democratic, and one toss-up.

Brown said, “My office reviewed the maps contained in the bills passed by the Legislature after they were proposed this weekend. Redistricting is a process that necessarily involves compromise, and I appreciate the Legislature working to balance the various interests of all Oregonians.” 

House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R) criticized the maps, saying: “This is by no means over. The illegal congressional map adopted today, clearly drawn for partisan benefit, will not survive legal challenge. Political gerrymandering in Oregon is illegal and drawing congressional lines to ensure five out of six seats for your party long-term is gerrymandering.”

About redistricting in Oregon: In Oregon, the state legislature draws congressional and state legislative district maps. Maps are subject to veto by the governor.

If the legislature does not approve a redistricting plan for state legislative districts, the secretary of state draws the boundaries.

State law requires that congressional and state legislative districts meet the following criteria:

  • Districts must be contiguous.
  • Districts must “utilize existing geographic or political boundaries.”
  • Districts should not “divide communities of common interest.”
  • Districts should “be connected by transportation links.”
  • Districts “must not be drawn for the purpose of favoring a political party, incumbent or other person.”

For more information about the current redistricting cycle in Oregon, click here.


Colorado: Redistricting commission approves final congressional map 

On Sept. 28, the Colorado Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission approved a final congressional district map. Eleven of the 12 commissioners voted in favor of the final map, which was one of nine proposed. The commission ultimately selected a version of the third staff plan, as amended by Commissioner Martha Coleman (D).

The Denver Post’s Alex Burness said the approved map “gives comfortable advantages to each of Colorado’s seven incumbent members of Congress — Democrats Joe Neguse, Jason Crow, Diana DeGette, and Ed Perlmutter and Republicans Ken Buck, Lauren Boebert and Doug Lamborn.” Regarding the state’s new eighth district, Burness said, “Recent election results suggest the new 8th Congressional District will be a close race in 2022.”

About redistricting in Colorado: On Nov. 6, 2018, Colorado voters approved constitutional amendments Y and Z, establishing separate non-politician commissions for congressional and state legislative redistricting. Each commission has four members belonging to the state’s largest political party, four members belonging to the state’s second-largest party, and four members belonging to no party. Commission members are appointed by a panel of three judges selected by the Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court. The amendment requires at least eight of the commission’s 12 members, including at least two members not belonging to any political party, to approve a map.

For more information about the current redistricting cycle in Colorado, click here.


Ohio: Redistricting commission approves state legislative district maps on party-line vote 

On Sept. 16,the Ohio Redistricting Commission approved new state legislative district maps by a 5-2 vote. The two Democratic members of the commission, state Rep. Emilia Sykes (D) and state Sen. Vernon Sykes (D), dissented. Since the maps were approved along partisan lines, they will remain in force for four years as opposed to 10, as required under the 2015 constitutional amendment that created the commission. These maps take effect for Ohio’s 2022 legislative elections.

Senate President Matt Huffman (R), a member of the commission, estimated that the new maps would create 62 Republican seats and 37 Democratic seats in the House, and 23 Republican seats and 10 Democratic seats in the Senate. Cleveland.com reported that Democrats on the commission agreed with Huffman’s Senate estimates, but said the new House map would create 65 Republican seats and 34 Democratic seats. 

For more information about the current redistricting cycle in Ohio, click here.


Legislation update: Redistricting, electoral systems, and primary systems bills 

Redistricting legislation: So far this year, we’ve tracked at least 219 redistricting-related bills up for consideration in state legislatures. 

Redistricting legislation in the United States, 2021 

Current as of Oct. 5, 2021

Electoral systems legislation: So far this year, we’ve tracked at least 147 bills dealing with electoral systems that are up for consideration in state legislatures. 

Electoral systems legislation in the United States, 2021 

Current as of Oct. 5, 2021

Primary systems legislation: So far this year, we’ve tracked at least 20 bills dealing with primary systems that are up for consideration in state legislatures. 

Primary systems legislation in the United States, 2021 

Current as of Oct. 5, 2021



Voters in Juneau, Alaska, decide Tuesday whether to renew a 3% sales tax

Photo of the city of Juneau, Alaska

On Oct. 5, voters in Juneau, Alaska, will decide a ballot measure—Proposition 1—to renew the city’s 3% temporary sales tax for five years. If voters don’t approve Proposition 1 the tax would expire on July 1, 2022. If voters approve Proposition 1, the city’s total sales tax rate would remain at 5%: this 3% temporary tax, a 1% temporary tax, and a 1% permanent sales tax. If voters reject Proposition 1, the total sales tax rate in the city would drop to 2%.

The Juneau Assembly’s intended use of the revenue from the tax would continue as follows:

  1. 1% police, fire, street maintenance, snow removal, EMT/ambulance service, parks and recreation, libraries, and other general purposes;
  2. 1% roads, drainage, retaining walls, sidewalks, stairs, and other capital improvements; and
  3. 1% allocated annually by the assembly among capital improvements, an emergency budget reserve, and other general public services.

Voters last renewed the 3% temporary tax in Oct. 2016. Juneau Budget Analyst Adrien Speegle estimated the tax generates $30 million per year.



Arizona voters to decide local minimum wage increase, bond issues, school budget override, and charter amendments in November

Ballotpedia is covering 11 local ballot measures in Chandler, Gilbert, Scottsdale, and Tucson on November 2, 2021. 

In Chandler, voters will decide five bond issues totaling $272,685,000:

  1. Question 1: Authorizes $72,985,000 in bonds to construct, improve, and acquire city parks and recreational facilities
  2. Question 2: Authorizes $25,160,000 in bonds to construct, renovate, and equip city fire stations and fire safety-related facilities
  3. Question 3: Authorizes $55,190,000 in bonds to construct, renovate, and equip city police stations and police-related facilities
  4. Question 4: Authorizes $85,780,000 in bonds to acquire, improve, or construct streets, traffic signals, utility lines, shared-use trails, and other transportation projects
  5. Question 5: Authorizes $33,570,000 in bonds to acquire, improve, or construct municipal buildings including performing arts facilities, office buildings, community centers, and libraries

The board of Chandler Unified School District No. 80 referred a measure to the ballot that would authorize the district to exceed their maintenance and operations budget by 15% for six years, thereby continuing existing budget levels. The measure would also levy property taxes of $1.24 per $100 in assessed property value. Voters last authorized a budget override in November 2017.

Gilbert voters will decide on two ballot measures on November 2. Question 1 would authorize the city to issue $515 million in bonds to construct, acquire, and improve streets, roadways, traffic signals, drainage systems, retention basins, and other transportation and infrastructure projects. Proposition 462 would authorize a franchise agreement between Southwest Gas Corporation and the city of Gilbert to maintain the city’s gas system and facilities for 25 years.

Scottsdale voters will decide one ballot measure, Proposition 463, that would ratify the city’s General Plan unanimously passed by the city council on June 8, 2021. In 2012, Scottsdale voters rejected a new General Plan, thereby maintaining the General Plan adopted in 2001. 

The elections in Chandler, Gilbert, and Scottsdale will be conducted entirely by mail. No polling places will be provided on the election day.

Tucson voters will decide on two ballot measures. Proposition 206 would incrementally increase the city’s minimum wage from $12.15 (the state’s minimum wage) to $15 by January 1, 2025, and increase it every January thereafter by the rate of inflation rounded to the nearest multiple of $0.05. The initiative would also establish a Department of Labor Standards. The department would be authorized to receive complaints from employees, investigate employers, and educate workers about their rights under the initiative.

Tucson Proposition 410 would increase the compensation for the mayor from $42,000 to $54,000 and the compensation for city council members from $24,000 to $36,000 beginning on December 4, 2023. It would also require compensation increases linked to inflation for every following year. The Tucson election will be conducted via mail and in-person voting.

The last day to register to vote in Maricopa and Pima Counties is Monday, Oct. 4. 

In 2021, Ballotpedia is covering local measures that appear on the ballot for voters within the top 100 largest cities in the U.S. and all state capitals, including those outside of the top 100 largest cities. Ballotpedia is also covering all local ballot measures in California, a selection of notable local measures related to police policies and election policies, and all statewide ballot measures.