Tagballot measure

Senate Judiciary Committee to vote on Barrett nomination this week

Welcome to the Wednesday, October 21, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Senate Judiciary Committee to vote on Barrett nomination
  2. The arguments for and against lockdown/stay-at-home orders and restrictions on religious services
  3. Explore Kansas elections
  4. Explore Washington elections

Senate Judiciary Committee to vote on Barrett nomination

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote tomorrowOct. 22on the nomination of federal appeals court justice Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. The committee held public hearings from Oct. 12 through Oct. 15 and will vote on whether to advance Barrett’s nomination to the full Senate. 

There are 22 members of the committee—12 Republicans and 10 Democrats. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is the chairman and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is the ranking member. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the full Senate would begin to consider Barrett’s nomination on Oct. 23 and has scheduled a vote on her confirmation for Oct. 26.

Barrett is President Trump’s (R) third nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. He appointed Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacancy opened by Antonin Scalia’s death in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy opened by Anthony Kennedy’s retirement in 2018.

Our coverage of the committee proceedings includes a brief summary of each day’s proceedings, links to the statements made by committee members during the hearings, and transcripts of the testimonies from panels of witnesses in support of and opposed to Barrett’s confirmation. 

Click the link below to review what happened or catch up on anything you may have missed. 

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The arguments for and against lockdown/stay-at-home orders and restrictions on religious services

As part of our ongoing coverage in Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, Ballotpedia published a series of articles capturing the regular themes in support of and opposition to policy responses to the coronavirus. 

We identified topic areas—such as mask requirements or testing—and gathered and curated articles and commentary from public officials, think tanks, journalists, scientists, economists, and others. We then organized that commentary into broad, thematic summaries of the arguments.

Last month, we looked at mask requirements and school closures. Today, let’s look at lockdown/stay-at-home orders and religious service restrictions.

Lockdown/stay-at-home orders

The arguments identified in favor of lockdown/stay-at-home orders include:

  • The orders are necessary,
  • The orders are better for the economy long-term,
  • The orders are legal, and
  • The orders are limited.

The arguments identified opposing lockdown/stay-at-home orders include:

  • The orders are unnecessary,
  • The orders are worse than the coronavirus pandemic itself,
  • The orders are illegal, and 
  • The orders go too far.

You can explore these arguments in more detail by clicking here.

Restrictions on religious services

The arguments identified in favor of restrictions on religious services include:

  • Public safety priorities take precedence over religious interests, 
  • In-person religious gatherings are not essential services, and 
  • Religious gathering restrictions do not discriminate against faiths.

The arguments identified against restrictions on religious services include:

  • Religious service restrictions violate the First Amendment and religious freedom, 
  • Religious services are essential, and 
  • COVID-19 religious restrictions are unfair to some faiths.

You can explore these arguments in more detail by clicking here.

We also encourage you to share the debates happening in your local community by sending an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.

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Explore Kansas elections

Today’s election previews feature Kansas and Washington. Here are the states we’ve highlighted so far, along with a map below summarizing where we are in the series:

Week One: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Texas, North Carolina, Mississippi, Illinois, Ohio, Nebraska, and Oregon

Week Two: Montana, New Mexico, Iowa, South Dakota, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Idaho, Maryland, Nevada, and South Carolina

Week Three: North Dakota and West Virginia, Georgia and New York, Kentucky and Virginia, Colorado and Utah, New Jersey and Oklahoma

Week Four: Maine, Missouri, Arizona, and Michigan.

On the ballot in Kansas

At the federal level, Kansas voters will elect six presidential electors, one U.S. Senator, and four U.S. Representatives. Five out of 10 seats are up for election on the state board of education. Both chambers of the state legislature are on the ballot, with all 40 seats up in the state Senate and all 125 state House districts. One seat on the state supreme court and five seats on the state court of appeals are up for retention. Ballotpedia is also tracking local elections in Sedgwick County.

Partisan balance

  • In 2016, Donald Trump (R) defeated Hillary Clinton (D) 57% to 36% in Kansas. Lyndon B. Johnson was the last Democrat to win Kansas in 1964.
  • Both of Kansas’ U.S. Senators—Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts—are Republicans.
  • Republicans represent three of Kansas’ U.S. House districts and Democrats represent one.
  • Kansas’ governor is a Democrat. Its attorney general and secretary of state are Republicans, meaning it is one of 14 states with divided triplex control. It has held this status since the 2018 election of Gov. Laura Kelly (D).
  • Republicans have a 29-11 majority in the state Senate and an 84-41 majority in the state House. Because the governor is a Democrat, Kansas is one of 14 states without a trifecta. Republicans lost a trifecta after Kelly (D) was elected governor in 2018.

Battleground races

There are two battleground races in Kansas this year:

  • U.S. Senate: Barbara Bollier (D), Roger Marshall (R), and Jason Buckley (L) are running in the general election; Roberts is not seeking re-election. In 2014, no Democratic candidate ran and Roberts defeated independent Greg Orman 53% to 43%. 
  • Kansas State Board of Education: Kansas is holding elections for the five even-numbered districts of the state board of education, including two contested races. In the open-seat race in District 2, Melanie Haas (D) faces Benjamin Hodge (R) as Steve Roberts (R) did not run for re-election. In District 8, incumbent Kathy Busch (R) is opposed by Betty Arnold (D). In July, the Board received attention for its 5-5 vote that vetoed the governor’s executive order to postpone school reopenings in the state until September 9. Roberts voted to veto the order and Busch voted to uphold it. Leading up to the 2020 election, Republicans had an 8-2 majority on the board.

Ballot measures

  • There are no statewide ballot measures in Kansas in 2020.


  • Witnesses or notaries are not required to sign absentee/mail-in ballots in Kansas.  
  • Voters can return their absentee/mail-in ballots by mail or in person. If returned in person, ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Nov. 3. If returned by mail, ballots must be postmarked on or before Nov. 3 and received by Nov. 6. Click here to check the status of your ballot.
  • In 2018, absentee/mail-in ballots represented 15.9% of all ballots cast in Kansas.
  • Kansas law does not specify when election administrators can begin counting absentee/mail-in ballots, only that “final tabulation shall not be completed until Election Day.”
  • Kansas requires all voters to present photo identification at the polls. For more information about Kansas’ voter ID requirements, click here
  • Early voting began on Oct. 14 and closes on Nov. 2. 
  • In Kansas, polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day. Kansas is split between the Central and Mountain time zones. 

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Explore Washington elections

On the ballot in Washington

At the federal level, Washington voters will elect 12 presidential electors and 10 U.S. Representatives. Nine state executive offices are up for election: governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, superintendent of public instruction, commissioner of public lands, commissioner of insurance, treasurer, and auditor. Both chambers of the state legislature are on the ballot, with 25 out of 49 seats up for election in the state Senate and all 98 state House districts. One state Senate seat is also up for special election. Four seats on the state supreme court and seven seats on the state court of appeals are up for election. Voters will also decide on six statewide ballot measures.

Partisan data

  • In 2016, Hillary Clinton (D) defeated Donald Trump (R) 53% to 37% in Washington. Ronald Reagan was the last Republican to win the state in a presidential election in 1984.
  • Five of Washington’s 39 counties are Pivot Counties, accounting for 4.8% of the state’s population. Pivot Counties voted for Barack Obama (D) in 2008 and 2012 and Donald Trump (R) in 2016.
  • Both of Washington’s Senators—Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell—are Democrats. 
  • Democrats represent seven of the state’s U.S. House districts and Republicans represent three.
  • Washington’s governor and attorney general are Democrats, while its secretary of state is a Republican, meaning it is one of 14 states without a state government triplex. Washington last had a Republican triplex, which was broken when Democrats took the governorship, in the 1984 elections.
  • Democrats have a 29-20 majority in the state Senate and a 57-41 majority in the state House. Because the governor is also a Democrat, Washington is one of 15 states with a Democratic trifecta. Democrats gained a trifecta when they won a majority in the state Senate in a special election in 2017.

Battleground races

Ballotpedia has identified one battleground race in Washington this year:

  • Secretary of State: Incumbent Kim Wyman (R) and Gael Tarleton (D) are running for secretary of state. Wyman was first elected in 2012 and won re-election 55% to 45% in 2016. No Democrat has won the office since 1960.

Ballot measures

  • Washington voters will decide two binding statewide measures and four non-binding, advisory votes on Nov. 3.
  • Opponents of a comprehensive sexual health education bill (Senate Bill 5395) collected signatures to place the bill on the ballot as Referendum 90 for voter approval or rejection. Referendum 90 is one of four statewide veto referendums in the country this year.


  • Washington conducts its elections predominantly by mail.
  • Witnesses or notaries are not required to sign mail-in ballot return documents in Washington.  
  • Voters can return their ballots in person or by mail. If returned in person, ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3. If returned by mail, ballots must be postmarked on or before Nov. 3. Click here to check the status of your ballot.
  • In the 2018 general election, mail-in ballots represented 97.8% of all ballots cast in Washington.
  • Washington law allows election administrators to count mail-in ballots after polls close. 
  • Washington does not generally require voters to present identification at the polls. 
  • In-person early voting at vote centers begins on Oct. 16 and ends on Nov. 2. 
  • In Washington, opening hours for vote centers vary between localities. Vote centers close at 8 p.m. on Election Day. Washington is in the Pacific time zone. 

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Mark Zuckerberg donated $500,000 to campaign supporting Oregon Measure 110, the Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative 

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), Mark Zuckerberg’s public advocacy fund, donated $500,000 to More Treatment for a Better Oregon: Yes on 110, the campaign sponsoring Measure 110.

Oregon Measure 110 would make personal non-commercial possession of a controlled substance no more than a Class E violation (max fine of $100 fine) and establish a drug addiction treatment and recovery program funded in part by the state’s marijuana tax revenue and state prison savings.

The initiative is the first ballot measure Zuckerberg has contributed to in Oregon. In 2020, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative contributed $6.3 million to support California Proposition 15, which would require commercial and industrial properties to be taxed based on market value. CZI also contributed $1 million to the No on Proposition 20 campaign. California Proposition 20 would make changes to policies related to criminal sentencing charges, prison release, and DNA collection.

More Treatment for a Better Oregon reported $2 million in contributions according to the latest campaign finance reports filed on October 5.

There were three other committees registered in support of the measure—IP 44, A More Humane Approach – Yes on 110 Committee, and Washington County Justice Initiative PAC. Together, they reported $2.5 million in contributions. Drug Policy Action, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that has funded marijuana legalization and drug decriminalization efforts in other states, contributed $3.4 million to the campaigns supporting the initiative.

Theshia Naidoo, the managing director of criminal justice law and policy at Drug Policy Action, said, “Oregonians have always been early adopters of drug policies that shift the emphasis towards health and away from punishment. The idea behind this groundbreaking effort is simple: people suffering from addiction need help, not criminal punishments. Instead of arresting and jailing people for using drugs, the measure would fund a range of services to help people get their lives back on track.”

The opposition campaign, No on Measure 110, reported over $55,000 in contributions. Oregon Council for Behavioral Health recently came out in opposition to the measure. They argued, “The measure provides no new funding, destroys pathways to treatment and recovery, and fails to address racial injustice in our systems by decriminalizing a narrow set of charges without resource for larger system innovation. … OCBH supports the supporters’ goal of correcting inherent injustice and decriminalizing drug charges, but this measure falls short of addressing the wide-ranging impacts on access to treatment and recovery.”

The Oregon Criminal Justice Commission estimated that Oregon spent $472 million on substance abuse treatment services and $1.95 billion on corrections from 2017 to 2019.

Additional Reading:

Nebraska Governor Ricketts donated $100,000 to campaign opposing state’s three gambling initiatives

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts (R) donated $100,000 to Gambling with the Good Life, the campaign opposing Initiatives 429, 430, and 431. Together, the initiatives would authorize, regulate, and tax gambling at licensed horse racetracks. Gambling with the Good Life reported receiving over $139,000 in cash contributions. The other top two donors to the campaign were the Archdiocese of Omaha and Cornhusker Bank.

Explaining his opposition, Governor Pete Ricketts said, “There are all sorts of social problems that come along with expanding gambling, which is why Nebraskans have historically rejected expanding gambling here in the state. I certainly support rejecting expanded gambling and would encourage other Nebraskans to support rejecting it as well.”

Initiatives 429, 430, and 431 are sponsored by Keep the Money in Nebraska, which reported receiving a total of $3.4 million in contributions from Ho-Chunk, Inc., a developer owned by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska.

Initiative 429 would amend the Nebraska Constitution to allow the enactment of Initiative 430, which would authorize and regulate gambling at licensed horse racetracks, and Initiative 431, which would impose an annual tax of 20% on gross gambling revenue. Without the approval of Initiative 429, Initiatives 430 and 431 would not take effect.

Mike Newlin, general manager of Horsemen’s Park and Lincoln Race Course, said, “[If this measure passes], we’d finally be able to reap the rewards that we’ve been giving our neighbor states in entertainment and gambling dollars. The overall impact is not only the tax revenue but the jobs that would be created. The ancillary work that would come with casino gambling, increased horse racing, and things like that will have a huge economic effect.” 

Initiative 431 would impose an annual tax of 20% on gross gambling revenue of licensed gaming operators. The tax revenue would be distributed as follows:

  • 70% to the Property Tax Credit Cash Fund
  • 25% to the counties where gambling is authorized at licensed racetracks,
  • 2.5% of tax revenue to the Compulsive Gamblers Assistance Fund, and
  • 2.5% to the General Fund.

In 2019, Missouri had the highest gross gaming revenue ($1.73 billion) and taxes generated ($997.8 million) among the states bordering Nebraska. The average amount of taxes generated among the five states bordering Nebraska with commercial gaming was $469.3 million. South Dakota had the lowest flat tax rate with 9% on gross gaming revenue, and Kansas had the highest with 27%.

In 2020, three states will be voting on four measures related to gambling.

  • Colorado Amendment 77 would allow voters in Central, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek Cities — the only towns where gaming is legal in Colorado — to (1) approve a maximum single bet limit of any amount and (2) expand allowable game types in addition to slot machines, blackjack, poker, roulette, and craps.
  • Colorado Amendment C would amend the state constitution to lower the number of years an organization must have existed before obtaining a charitable gaming license from five years to three years and to allow charitable organizations to hire managers and operators of gaming activities so long as they are not paid more than the minimum wage.
  • Maryland Question 2 would authorize sports and events wagering at certain licensed facilities with state revenue intended to fund public education.
  • South Dakota Constitutional Amendment B would amend the state constitution to authorize the South Dakota State Legislature to legalize sports betting within the city limits of Deadwood, South Dakota, with all net municipal proceeds (defined) dedicated to the Deadwood Historic Restoration and Preservation Fund.

Additional reading:

Montana voters to decide five ballot measures related to firearms, marijuana, and the initiative process in November

Montana voters will decide five statewide ballot measures on November 3 concerning firearms, marijuana, and the ballot initiative process.

The two citizen initiatives on the ballot—CI-118 and I-190—were sponsored by New Approach Montana and are designed to legalize recreational marijuana in the state. CI-118 would amend the Montana Constitution to authorize the legislature or a citizen initiative to set a legal age for marijuana purchase, use, and possession. I-190 would enact a law that would legalize the possession and use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21, impose a 20% tax on marijuana sales, require the Department of Revenue to develop rules to regulate marijuana businesses, and allow for the resentencing or expungement of marijuana-related crimes.

The tax revenue generated would be allocated as follows:

  1. 49.5% to accounts for wildlife, parks, and recreation
  2. 10.5% to the state’s general fund
  3. 10% to an account for drug treatment
  4. 10% to local authorities to enforce the provisions of the law
  5. 10% to an account for Montana veterans
  6. 10% to an account to fund wage increases for healthcare workers

Pepper Peterson, a spokesperson for New Approach Montana, said, “Our research has always shown that a majority of Montanans support legalization, and now voters will have the opportunity to enact that policy, which will create jobs and generate new revenue for our state. It also means that law enforcement will stop wasting time and resources arresting adults for personal marijuana possession, and instead focus on real crime.”

According to the latest campaign finance data filed on September 30, New Approach Montana reported receiving $6.95 million in contributions, including $4.7 million from the North Fund (a D.C. based nonprofit) and $1.9 million from the national New Approach PAC.

There is one committee registered in opposition to the initiatives—Wrong for Montana. The campaign reported receiving over $78,000 in contributions. Steve Zabawa, the treasurer of the Wrong for Montana campaign, said, “All you have to do is go to Colorado for a test site. They’ve been up and running now for eight years, and if you look at the traffic accidents, you look at the emergency room, you look at the vagrants, you look at the activity in the black market as well as the regular market down there, it has just exploded.”

Montana voters will also vote on a legislative referral that would remove local governments’ authority to regulate the carrying of permitted concealed weapons. The ballot measure would continue to allow local governments to regulate unpermitted concealed weapons and unconcealed weapons in public occupied buildings.

LR-130 would also remove local governments’ power to regulate the possession of firearms by “convicted felons, adjudicated mental incompetents, illegal aliens, and minors.”

According to the text of the measure, it was designed “to secure the right to keep and bear arms and to prevent a patchwork of restrictions by local governments across the state.”

Montana Governor Steve Bullock (D) came out in opposition to the measure saying, “[LR-130] would end local decision-making about whether felons and the mentally ill can carry weapons in public. It would also end local decision-making about concealed weapons. Both changes are dramatic departures from Montana history. Neither is good policy. Montana law already contains strong protections that totally prohibit localities from restricting our basic right to keep and bear arms. […] I see no reason to reassign that power to decision-makers in Helena.”

Gary Marbut, president of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, said, “Bullock is effectively arguing that a felon who would disregard committing another federal felony and disregard a state law prohibiting guns in schools would be deterred from bringing guns into schools if only local governments are allowed to enact an ordinance for a local misdemeanor prohibiting that conduct. Right, as if felons spend their time first reading and then complying with local ordinances.”

Ballotpedia identified one committee—NRA Big Sky Self-Defense Committee—in support of LR-130 that raised $16,000 from the NRA Institute for Legislative Action. There is one committee—No on LR-130—that reported nearly $1 million in contributions with its largest contribution from the Montana Federation for Public Employees ($803,369.27).

The legislature also referred two constitutional amendments to the ballot—C-46 and C-47. The measures would not alter currently enforced initiative signature distribution requirements but would amend constitutional language to match the signature distribution requirements currently enforced.

A distribution requirement is a statutory or constitutional mandate requiring that petitions for a ballot measure or candidate nomination must be signed by voters from different political subdivisions in order for the ballot measure or candidate to qualify for the ballot.

For an initiated constitutional amendment in Montana, proponents must collect signatures equal to 10 percent of the qualified electors in each of two-fifths (40) of the state’s 100 legislative districts. C-47 would amend the constitutional language to match these signature distribution requirements for initiative petitions.

For an initiated state statute or a veto referendum in Montana, sponsors must collect signatures equal to 5 percent of the qualified electors in each of one-third (34) of the state’s legislative districts. C-46 would amend the constitutional language to match these requirements.

The signature distribution requirements for initiated state statutes, veto referendums, and initiated constitutional amendments were changed in the state constitution to a county-based requirement with the passage of two voter-approved constitutional amendments, C-37 and C-38, in 2002. The 2002 county-based requirements were later ruled unconstitutional. Based on a ruling from Attorney General Mike McGrath, the distribution requirements in the constitution prior to 2002 were re-enforced. The invalidated language, however, remained in the state constitution.

The deadline to register to vote is October 26. Late registration, which is conducted at county election offices, begins on October 27 and continues through election day. Polls will be open from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm on election day. Mail-in ballots must be received by 8:00 pm on election day.

Additional reading:

Arkansas Supreme Court removes third citizen initiative from November ballot, leaving three legislative referrals for voters to decide

On September 17, the Arkansas Supreme Court removed Issue 6 from the November ballot. The referendum would have allowed voters to either repeal or uphold Act 579, which was designed to amend the definition of practice of optometry to allow optometrists to perform certain surgical procedures that were previously only performed by ophthalmologists. A yes vote on the referendum would have been a vote to uphold Act 579 while a no vote would have been a vote to repeal it.

During this cycle, the Arkansas Supreme Court removed all three citizen-initiated measures from the ballot—Issue 4, Issue 5, and Issue 6—that had been certified for the ballot. The rulings were all based on certifications filed by measure sponsors that said background checks were acquired for all signature gatherers. State law requires the certifications to state that background checks were passed by all signature gatherers.

Arkansans for Healthy Eyes led the campaign in support of a yes vote. Arkansans for Healthy Eyes supported Act 579 to allow optometrists to perform some eye surgeries. Safe Surgery Arkansas (SSA) led the campaign in support of a no vote. SSA sponsored the referendum signature petition. The group opposed allowing optometrists to perform some eye surgeries and sought to repeal Act 579. Safe Surgery Arkansas paid $661,000 to National Ballot Access, a petition circulating company, to collect signatures for the measure.

Issue 6 was removed from the ballot for the same reason that Issues 4 and 5 were removed in late August. Issue 4, sponsored by Arkansas Voters First, would have created the Citizens’ Redistricting Commission for state legislative and congressional redistricting. Arkansas Voters First paid $1.1 million to National Ballot Access, Advanced Micro Targeting, and Fieldworks LLC to collect signatures for the measure.

Issue 5, sponsored by Open Primaries Arkansas, would have (a) changed primary elections so that all candidates for an office are listed on a single primary ballot, rather than on separate partisan ballots, and (b) created a top-four ranked-choice voting system for general elections for federal congressional office, state general assembly, and statewide elected offices. Open Primaries Arkansas did not report signature gathering costs.

Under Arkansas Code § 7-9-601(b)(3), sponsors are required to certify to the secretary of state that each paid canvasser passed a state and federal criminal background check. The Arkansas Supreme Court found that proponents of the three measures failed to certify that paid signature gatherers passed background checks. The certifications submitted by petitioners stated that background checks were acquired, but did not say they were passed.

Sponsors of the referendum, Safe Surgery Arkansas, said they would pursue a new ballot measure in 2022.

Three measures remain on the November ballot in Arkansas. All three measures are constitutional amendments that were referred to the ballot by the state legislature. Issue 1 would continue a 0.5% sales tax for transportation projects; Issue 2 would change state legislative term limits; and Issue 3 would change initiative process and legislative referral requirements.

Two measures on the 2018 ballot in Arkansas were declared invalid by the state Supreme Court and votes for the measures were not counted. Similarly, in 2016, the supreme court declared two measures on the ballot to be invalid and votes were not counted.

Additional reading:

Finalized Nov. 3 ballot measures: election policy, marijuana, and tax trends; campaign finance records; unique measures on wolves, mushrooms, state flag design, and more

One hundred and fifteen statewide ballot measures will appear on November 3, 2020, ballots in 32 states, barring further court-ordered changes.

Together with eight pre-November ballot measures, 123 statewide measures will go before voters in 2020. This is 29% less than the average of 173 statewide measures in even-numbered years from 2010 through 2018.

Forty-three of the 2020 statewide measures were put on the ballot through citizen-initiated signature petition drives. There were an average of 59 citizen-initiated measures in each even-numbered year from 2010 through 2018. In 2016 and 2018, there were spikes in citizen initiative activity, with 76 and 68 measures respectively. There were 40 citizen-initiated measures in 2014.

From 1980 through 2014, an average of 54 citizen-initiated measures appeared on the ballot during even-numbered years. From 2008 through 2014, this average decreased to 49.

State legislatures referred 79 measures to the ballot. On average from 2010 through 2018, state legislatures referred 109 measures to the ballot.

There was one automatic referral in Iowa.

Notable topics and trends

Forty-three (37%) of the Nov. 3 measures are on the topics of election policy, marijuana policy, or taxes.

Eighteen measures in 14 states concern election policy, including campaign finance, election dates, election systems, redistricting, suffrage, and term limits.

Voters in five states will decide ballot measures changing their election systems for congressional, state legislative, and statewide offices. Alaska and Massachusetts voters will decide ranked-choice voting initiatives. Alaska’s measure would also make Alaska the first state to adopt top-four primary elections. Courts removed top-four primary and ranked-choice voting general election initiatives similar to the measure in Alaska from the ballot in Arkansas and North Dakota.

Florida voters will decide an initiative that would replace the state’s closed primary elections with top-two open primaries for state offices. Colorado voters will be the first to weigh in on the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC).

Voters in Missouri, New Jersey, and Virginia will decide redistricting measures.

Voters in Alabama, Colorado, and Florida will decide measures designed to change existing constitutional language providing the right to vote to say “only a citizen of the United States,” rather than “every citizen of the United States,” who is 18 years old or older has the right to vote.

Voters in California will decide whether to allow 17-year-olds to vote in primary and special elections if they will be 18 by the next general election. Voters will also decide whether to allow convicted felons who are on parole the ability to vote.

Voters in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota will vote on whether to legalize recreational marijuana. Voters in South Dakota and Mississippi will decide medical marijuana initiatives. South Dakota is the first state to vote on both recreational and medical marijuana measures at the same election.

Voters in 12 states will vote on 19 tax-related ballot measures. Ten of the measures address taxes on properties, three are related to income tax rates, two address tobacco taxes, one addresses business-related taxes, one addresses sales tax rates, one addresses fees and surcharges, and one is related to tax-increment financing (TIF).

Campaign finance

Committees registered to support or oppose the 124 statewide measures certified for 2020 ballots reported a combined $565.3 million in contributions and $224.9 million in expenditures.

The following five states have the most ballot measure campaign finance activity reported so far:

• California – $316.8 million in contributions

• Illinois – $80.4 million in contributions

• Florida – $28.4 million in contributions

• Colorado – $23.4 million in contributions

• Oregon – $14.1 million in contributions

The most expensive ballot measure of the year, California Proposition 22, is also the most expensive measure in California’s history. The support campaign has received record-breaking total contributions from multiple app-based driver companies, including Lyft, Uber, and Doordash.

Unique measures

Oregon could become the first state to create a program for the legal use of psilocybin mushrooms and to decriminalize all drugs.

Mississippi voters will decide on a new state flag design to replace its last flag featuring the Confederate battle flag, and Rhode Island voters will decide whether or not to remove the words “Providence Plantations” from the state’s official name. Voters in both states decided in favor of the status quo on these issues in 2001 and 2010, respectively.

Get more details and analysis in the September edition of the State Ballot Measure Monthly. The edition covers the final certifications of 2020; the measures that were removed fro the ballot since mid-August; and more analysis of trends, notable topics, and unique measures.

Subscribe to Ballotpedia’s newsletters to see upcoming analysis of the 2020 measures, including our comprehensive reports on signature petition costs, campaign finance, and ballot language readability.

Additional reading:
2020 ballot measures

Support and opposition committees for Massachusetts Question 1 (“Right to Repair Law” initiative) reported $34.8 million in combined contributions

Updated on Sept. 19, 2020

Massachusetts voters will decide Question 1 on Nov. 3. The initiative would require manufacturers that sell vehicles with telematics systems in Massachusetts to equip them with a standardized open data platform beginning with model year 2022. The platform would need to allow vehicle owners and independent repair facilities may access to retrieve mechanical data and run diagnostics through a mobile-based application.

The Right to Repair Coalition, the sponsors of Massachusetts Question 1, reported receiving over $9.2 million in its August report. The committee reported spending $6.7 million. The largest contributors to the support committee were the Coalition of Automotive Repair Equality ($3.1 million) and the Auto Care Association ($2.6 million).

The top-five largest contributors to the support committee were 

  • the Coalition of Automotive Repair Equality ($3.1 million)
  • the Auto Care Association ($2.6 million), 
  • Advance Auto Parts ($1 million),
  • Auto Zone ($1 million), and
  • O’Reilly Auto Parts ($1 million).

The Coalition for Safe and Secure Data, the committee registered in opposition to Massachusetts Question 1, reported receiving $25.6 million in contributions in its latest campaign finance report filed September 4. The committee had spent over $6.8 million. Fifteen automobile manufacturers and two automotive trade organizations contributed to the committee. The following were the top five contributors to the committee:

  • 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 next campaign finance reports are due Sept. 21.

The first “right to repair law” was approved by the Massachusetts General Assembly and signed into law on Nov. 26, 2013. The 2013 law reconciled the differences between Question 1 (2012), which was approved by 87.7% of voters, and the alternative version resulting from a legislative compromise approved on July 31, 2012. Since the legislative compromise was passed after the July 3 signature deadline, the 2012 initiative could not be removed from the ballot after qualifying.

The 2013 “right to repair law” exempts telematics systems from wireless accessibility by vehicle owners and independent repair facilities. Under Question 1 (2020), Telematics systems would be accessible through a mobile device application and could be used by independent repair facilities to access data and send commands to the system for repair, maintenance, and diagnostic testing.

According to the Right to Repair Coalition, the group proposed the 2020 initiative to update the previous law. Barry Steinberg, the owner of Direct Tire in Watertown and a member of the Right to Repair Coalition, said, “Massachusetts voters voted 86% in 2012 to require car companies to give access to repair information and diagnostics. But now big auto is using the next generation of wireless technology to get around our law, shut out independent repair shops, and cost car owners more money. That’s not what we voted for.”

The Coalition for Safe and Secure Data argued the measure would dangerously expand access to car data. Conor Yunits, the spokesman for the Coalition for Safe and Secure Data, said, “This ballot question will create easy opportunities for strangers, hackers and criminals to access consumer vehicles and personal driving data–including real-time location. It will put people at risk, without doing anything to improve the consumer experience.”

Massachusetts is the only state that has adopted a “right to repair law.” During the 2019-2020 legislative session, none of the 17 states that introduced a “right to repair law” had approved it.

Massachusetts voters will also be deciding on an initiative that would enact ranked-choice voting for primary and general elections for state executive officials, state legislators, congressional and senate seats, and certain county offices beginning in 2022.

So far, Ballotpedia has tracked a total of $572.4 million in contributions to and $228.1 million in expenditures by campaigns supporting or opposing the 123 2020 statewide measures. The following five states have the most ballot measure campaign finance activity reported so far:
California – $316.8 million in contributions
Illinois – $80.4 million in contributions
Massachusetts – $38.8 million in contributions
Florida – $28.4 million in contributions
Colorado – $23.4 million in contributions

A previous version of this article stated that the support committee, the Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition, had received $5.7 million in contributions and did not list Advance Auto Parts, Auto Zone, or O’Reilly Auto Parts as top donors. That version was based on original campaign finance report filings. Those reports were subsequently amended by the committee to include, among other contributions and expenditures, contributions of $1 million each from Advance Auto Parts, Auto Zone, or O’Reilly Auto Parts. This article was adjusted on Sept. 19 to account for the campaign finance report amendments.

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Where electoral systems are on the ballot in 2020

Voters in five states will decide ballot measures related to electoral systems on November 3, 2020. Policies that are on the ballot include ranked-choice voting, top-two and top-four primaries, the national popular vote interstate compact, and runoff elections. Most (4 of 5) of the ballot measures came through the citizen-initiated petition process.
In Colorado, Proposition 113 asks voters whether to uphold or repeal legislation to add the state to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC). The NPVIC was designed to give the state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the nationwide popular vote. It would take effect is states representing at least 270 electoral votes join the NPVIC. In 2019, the Democratic-controlled Colorado State Legislature passed a bill to join the NPVIC. Two Republicans— Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese and Monument Mayor Don Wilson—filed a veto referendum on the bill resulting in Proposition 113. Currently, 14 states and Washington, D.C., (representing 187 electors in the Electoral College) have adopted legislation to join the compact.
In Massachusetts and Alaska, voters will decide ranked-choice voting ballot initiatives. Massachusetts Question 2 would enact ranked-choice voting for federal, state, and some local primaries and general elections. Alaska Ballot Measure 2 would use ranked-choice voting for general elections but not primaries. Instead, Ballot Measure 2 would adopt top-four primaries in which all candidates run on the same ballot regardless of partisan affiliation, and the four who receive the most votes move on to the general election.
Massachusetts and Alaska could be the second and third states to adopt ranked-choice voting for at least some statewide elections. In 2016, Maine became the first state to enact a state system of ranked-choice voting after voters approved a ballot measure. In both Massachusetts and Alaska, the top donors behind the measures are the Action Now Initiative and Unite America.
While Alaska Ballot Measure 2 would adopt top-four primaries, Florida Amendment 3 would replace the state’s closed primaries with top-two open primaries for elected state offices. Florida would join California and Washington in using top-two open primaries. Miguel Fernandez, a businessman and investor, is funding the campaign.
Voters in Mississippi will decide a legislative referral to change how the governor and state officials are elected. Heading into November, the Mississippi Constitution requires that gubernatorial and state official candidates receive the most votes statewide and the most votes in a majority of the 122 state House districts to win the election. If no candidates win a majority of the state House districts, then state representatives decide the election. The ballot measure would repeal the majority-of-House-districts requirement and, instead, require candidates to win a majority of the vote. If no candidate wins a majority of the vote, then a runoff election would be held between the top two candidates under the measure.
This year’s electoral system ballot measures would—or in the case of Colorado, could—impact how candidates are elected in the future.

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Glynn County, Georgia, ballot measure to abolish local police ruled unconstitutional

On September 11, a Georgia Superior Court judge ruled that the authority to abolish a local police department is held by local officials and cannot be voted on via a public referendum. The court’s decision removed the Glynn County Abolish County Police Department Measure from the November ballot. The measure would have abolished the Glynn County Police Department and transferred all existing equipment, resources, and funds to the Sheriff of Glynn County.

Senator Ligon, the bill’s sponsor, said he believed the people should decide on the state of the police department. Georgia State Representative Jeff Jones (R) opposed the measure saying, “Voters elect county commissioners to oversee many things in the county, in particular the police department. For very good reason, the constitution does not give authority over a county police department to state representatives and or state senators.”

This measure was initially put on the ballot through a vote of the Georgia State Legislature. Senate Bill 509 (SB 509) was introduced on June 15, 2020, by Senator William Ligon (R). It was approved by the Georgia State Senate on June 18, 2020, in a vote of 46-1 with six not voting and two absent. On June 23, it was approved by the Georgia House of Representatives in a vote of 152-2 with seven not voting and 19 absent.

As of September 11, Ballotpedia is tracking 19 local police-related ballot measures in 14 jurisdictions in seven states. These local ballot measures were proposed in the wake of George Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020.

Of the 19 ballot measures, seven of them are on the ballot in California and four of them are on the ballot in Pennsylvania. The most common policy addressed by the ballot measures was police oversight boards and offices and the duties and powers of these boards and offices. Ten of the ballot measures addressed police oversight. Other topics include police and criminal justice funding, staffing levels, law enforcement training, and the public disclosure of police camera footage involving deaths and serious injuries.

The following is a list of local police-related measures on the ballot for November 3, 2020:
  • Los Angeles County, California: Voters will decide a ballot measure to require that no less than 10% of the county’s General Fund be appropriated to youth, job, business, and housing programs and alternatives to incarceration.
  • Oakland, California: The Oakland City Council referred to the ballot a charter amendment that would create an Office of the Inspector General to review the police commission’s policies, as well as change the powers, duties, and staffing of the commission and police review board.
  • San Diego, California: The San Diego City Council referred a ballot measure to create a Commission on Police Practices, which would conduct investigations and subpoena witnesses and documents related to deaths resulting from police interactions and complaints made against police officers.
  • San Francisco, California: Voters will decide two ballot measures related to policing. One would remove the minimum police staffing level required (1,971 full-time police officers) from the city’s charter. The other measure would create the Sheriff’s Department Oversight Board and the Sheriff’s Department Office of Inspector General.
  • San Jose, California: The San Jose City Council referred a charter amendment to the ballot that would authorize an independent police auditor to review reports and records related to officer-involved shootings and uses of force.
  • Sonoma County, California: Voters will decide Measure P, which would make changes to the county’s Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach.
  • DuPage County, Illinois: There are two non-binding advisory votes on the ballot. One advises the county on considering law enforcement and public safety as its top budgeting priority, and the other advises the county on funding and supporting law enforcement training methods that are designed to decrease the risk of injury to officers and suspects.
  • Akron, Ohio: Voters will decide a ballot measure to require police body and dashboard camera recording that document police use of force resulting in death or serious injury to be released to the public.
  • Columbus, Ohio: The Columbus City Council referred a charter amendment to the ballot that would create a Civilian Police Review Board to investigate alleged police misconduct, subpoena testimony and evidence during an investigation, and make recommendations to the Division of Police.
  • Portland, Oregon: Voters will decide a ballot measure to establish a new police oversight board, give the board subpoena powers, and allow the board to impose disciplinary actions, including termination, on law enforcement professionals.
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Voters in Philadelphia will decide two police-related ballot measures and one other criminal justice proposal. One measure would add language to the city charter calling on the police department to “eliminate the practice of unconstitutional stop and frisk, consistent with judicial precedent.” The other police-related measure would create a Citizens Police Oversight Commission. Another measure would create an Office of the Victim Advocate to act as an advocate for crime victims and co-victims.
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: The Pittsburgh City Council referred a charter amendment to the ballot that would authorize the Independent Citizen Police Review Board to audit the police bureau and require police officers to cooperate with the board’s investigations.
  • Kyle, Texas: Voters in Kyle will decide on a charter amendment that authorizes the city council to adopt procedures and establishes a committee to review the city’s police department.
  • King County, Washington: Two police-related measures will be on the ballot. One would make the county sheriff an appointed, rather than elected, position. The second measure would give the county council the authority to define the sheriff’s duties.
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28 committees supporting and opposing Colorado’s November ballot measures have raised over $23 million and spent over $19 million

Eleven statewide ballot measures are certified to appear on the November 3 ballot in Colorado. Ballotpedia identified 28 committees supporting and opposing 10 of the measures. The 28 committees had raised $23,369,532.55 and had spent $19,235,702.73 according to reports filed on September 8 that covered information through September 2. The next reports are due on September 21.

Eight of the 11 measures on the ballot were placed on the ballot through citizen petition drives and concern topics including wolf reintroduction, abortion restrictions, citizenship requirements for voting, paid medical leave, and taxes.

The citizen-initiated measures are Amendments 76 and 77 and Propositions 113 through 118. Campaigns surrounding the citizen-initiated measures raised 89.7% of the funds ($20.97 million) and accounted for 92% of the expenditures ($17.7 million of the $19.2 million total).

Campaigns surrounding the measures spent a combined total of $7.38 million on signature gathering costs. The campaigns to place Propositions 113 and 115 on the ballot used volunteers to collect signatures and therefore did not spend money on signature gathering. Proposition 113 will determine whether or not Colorado will join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Proposition 115 would prohibit abortion after 22 weeks gestational age.

Seven citizen-initiatives were on the ballot in Colorado in November 2018, second only to California with eight. A total of $7.33 million was spent on petition drives by committees behind the citizen-initiated measures that qualified for the 2018 ballot.

The state legislature referred a state statute to the November 2020 ballot that would increase tobacco taxes and create a new e-cigarette tax to fund various health and education programs (Proposition EE). The committee supporting Proposition EE (A Brighter, Healthier Future for Colorado’s Kids) raised $2.4 million. Opponents (No on EE– A Bad Deal for Colorado) had not yet reported campaign finance activity.

The state legislature referred two constitutional amendments: Amendment B, which would repeal the Gallagher Amendment and freeze current property tax assessment rates, and Amendment C, which would amend charitable gaming requirements.

Colorado Coming Together, supporting Amendment B, raised $50. Keep Property Taxes Low, opposing Amendment B, raised $2,050.

Ballotpedia did not identify committees supporting or opposing Amendment C, which would lower the number of years an organization must have existed before obtaining a charitable gaming license from five years to three years and to allow charitable organizations to hire managers and operators of gaming activities so long as they are not paid more than the minimum wage.

In 2018, Ballotpedia tracked $1.185 billion in contributions to the ballot measure campaigns supporting and opposing the 167 certified 2018 measures and $1.16 billion in expenditures by those campaigns. Campaigns supporting and opposing the 13 statewide ballot measures on the 2018 ballot in Colorado raised $70.4 million, ranking Colorado #6 among states with the highest ballot measure campaign contributions in 2018. California was #1 with $369 million.

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