Tagballot measures

Washington, D.C. voters approved Initiative 81 76% to 24% according to unofficial election night results

Initiative 81 declares that police shall treat the non-commercial cultivation, distribution, possession, and use of entheogenic plants and fungi as among the lowest law enforcement priorities. Examples of decriminalized substances include psilocybin mushrooms, also known as magic mushrooms or shrooms, peyote, and iboga. This makes D.C. the fifth city after Oakland and Santa Cruz, California; Denver, Colorado; and Ann Arbor, Michigan, to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms.

Oregon is the first state to create a program to legalize psilocybin services after approving Measure 109 in the 2020 election.



California ballot measures top $700 million in contributions

In California, campaigns have raised more than $694 million through October 17 to support or oppose statewide ballot measures on the November 3 ballot. An additional $13 million was raised for Proposition 13, which was defeated on March 3, bringing the total for the year to $708 million. In 2018, campaigns for and against 16 measures raised $369 million in California for the entire election cycle.

Of the 12 measures on the November ballot, contributions to the campaigns surrounding four of the measures—Propositions 15, 21, 22, and 23—account for 80 percent of the total contributions. Proposition 22, which would define app-based drivers as independent contractors, accounts for 30 percent of this year’s total.

Proposition 22, at $218 million between supporters and opponents, is also the most expensive ballot measure election in California history. The difference in the amount raised by supporters and opponents is 10-to-1. Yes on 22, backed by Uber, Lyft, Doordash, and Instacart, received $199 million. No on 22 received $19 million, with labor unions and organizations as the five largest donors. 

Proposition 15, at $124 million, is the second most expensive ballot measure election in California this year. Proposition 15 would require commercial and industrial properties, except those zoned as commercial agriculture, to be taxed based on their market value, rather than their purchase price.

Yes on 15 raised $63 million, with a $17-million contribution from the California Teachers Association and a $12-million contribution from Chan Zuckerberg Advocacy. Chan Zuckerberg Advocacy also contributed $2 million to oppose California Proposition 20 and $500,000 to support Oregon Measure 110.

No on Prop 15 raised $61 million, with more than half coming from the California Business Roundtable. The California Business Roundtable was also active in opposing Proposition 21, contributing $6.2 million.

Proposition 21 would allow local governments to enact rent control on housing that was first occupied over 15 years ago, with an exception for landlords who own no more than two homes with distinct titles or subdivided interests. Proposition 21 is similar to 2018’s Proposition 10, which would have allowed local governments to enact rent control without specified limits. The campaigns surrounding Proposition 21 and Proposition 10 involve several of the same organizations. Yes on 21 received $40 million, with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation providing 99 percent of the total. No on 21 received $73 million, including $12 million from Essex Property Trust and $11 million from Equity Residential.

Proposition 23 is also similar to a ballot measure that was defeated in 2018 and involves several of the same supporters and opponents. Proposition 23 would require chronic dialysis clinics to: have an on-site physician while patients are being treated; report data on dialysis-related infections; obtain consent from the state health department before closing a clinic; and not discriminate against patients based on the source of payment for care. Yes on 23 received $9 million, which came from the SEIU-UHW West, a labor union that represents healthcare workers. No on 23 received $105 million—12 times the amount that supporters received. DaVita and Fresenius Medical Care, which are both dialysis companies, contributed $67 million and $30 million, respectively.

Across the 12 ballot propositions, three individuals were top donors to several measures related to criminal justice, affirmative action, and voting policies. Connie and Steve Ballmer, the former CEO of Microsoft, contributed a combined $6 million to Yes on 25, which seeks to replace cash bail with risk assessments in California, and $1 million to Yes on 16, which is campaigning to repeal a 1996 state constitutional amendment that prohibited race-based and sex-based affirmative action in public employment, education, and contracting.

Patty Quillin, whose spouse is Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, donated $1 million to Yes on 25 and $1 million to Yes on 16. Quillin donated $2 million to No on 20, which opposes a ballot measure to add crimes to the list of violent felonies for which early parole is restricted; recategorize certain types of theft and fraud crimes as wobblers (chargeable as misdemeanors or felonies); and require DNA collection for certain misdemeanors.

Quillin also contributed $250,000 to Yes on 17, which supports an amendment to allow people on parole for felony convictions to vote, and $250,000 to Yes on 18, which supports a constitutional amendment to allow 17-year-olds who will be 18 at the time of the next general election to vote in primary elections and special elections.

Across the U.S., more than $1 billion has been raised for 129 statewide ballot measures—120 of which are on the November 3 ballot—so far. After California, the state with the most ballot measure campaign finance activity is Illinois, which only has one measure on the ballot.

In Illinois, more than $110 million has been raised for and against a constitutional amendment to allow for a graduated income tax. Massachusetts and Colorado rank third and fourth. Ballotpedia will track ballot measure contributions and expenditures made through the remainder of the election cycle, which ends on December 31, 2021.

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Louisiana legislature certifies constitutional amendment for December 5 ballot

On October 21, 2020, the Louisiana Legislature referred a constitutional amendment to the December 5 ballot during its second special legislative session. Senate Bill 44 (SB 44) would allow the governor to appoint at-large members to the boards of supervisors of state university systems from outside of the state if there are multiple at-large seats and at least one at-large seat is filled by a member from the state. The boards would each still consist of 15 members appointed by the governor and approved by the state Senate. Currently, the Louisiana Constitution requires all members to be from the state.

In Louisiana, a two-thirds vote is needed in each chamber of the Louisiana Legislature to refer a constitutional amendment to the ballot for voter consideration.

SB 44 was introduced on September 30, 2020. The state Senate and House approved the bill unanimously.

SB 44 is the only 2020 ballot measure certified for a post-November 3 statewide election. Louisiana voters will decide seven constitutional amendments on November 3 that concern abortion, taxes, natural resources, and state finances. In addition to statewide constitutional amendments, measures legalizing sports betting on a parish-by-parish basis are on the ballot in each of Louisiana’s 64 parishes on November 3. 

Louisiana is holding a general runoff election on December 5. Louisiana’s electoral system for local, state, and federal offices differs from those employed in the other 49 states. In Louisiana, all candidates running for a local, state, or federal office appear on the same ballot in either October (in odd-numbered years) or November (in even-numbered years), regardless of their partisan affiliations. If a candidate wins a simple majority of all votes cast for the office (i.e., 50 percent, plus one vote), he or she wins the election outright. If no candidate meets that threshold, the top two finishers, regardless of their partisan affiliations, advance to the election in December. In that election, the candidate who receives the greatest number of votes wins.

Between 1995 and 2019, Louisiana voters decided 189 constitutional amendments, averaging 10 measures per even-numbered year election. Voters approved 75 percent (141 of 189) and rejected 25 percent (48 of 189) of the constitutional amendments.

Additional reading:

Louisiana 2020 ballot measures



33 committees supporting and opposing Colorado’s 11 November ballot measures have raised over $48 million, spent over $45 million

Eleven statewide ballot measures are certified to appear on the November 3 ballot in Colorado. Ballotpedia identified 33 committees supporting and opposing the 11 measures. The 33 committees had raised $48,172,175.15 and had spent $45,061,423.96 according to reports due on October 19 that covered information through October 14 as well as major contributor reports available as of October 20. The next regular reports are due on November 2.

Eight of the 11 measures on the ballot were placed on the ballot through citizen petition drives and concern wolf reintroduction, abortion restrictions, citizenship requirements for voting, national popular vote, paid medical leave, gambling, and taxes. The legislature referred the others to the ballot.

The measure with the highest amount of contributions is Proposition EE, where committees supporting the measure had raised $4.3 million and the committee opposing the measure had raised $3.77 million. Proposition EE, which was referred to the ballot by the state legislature, would increase taxes on tobacco, create a tax on nicotine and vaping products, and dedicate the revenue to health and education programs.

The other top most expensive measure in Colorado in 2020 are:

  1. Colorado Proposition 115, 22-Week Abortion Ban Initiative (2020) – Support: $536,767.90; Opposition: $6,995,891.62
  2. Colorado Proposition 118, Paid Medical and Family Leave Initiative (2020) – Support: $7,203,854.56; Opposition: $705,598.29
  3. Colorado Proposition 113, National Popular Vote Interstate Compact Referendum (2020) – Support: $4,664,373.10; Opposition: $1,603,884.33

So far in 2020, Ballotpedia has tracked $918.4 million in contributions to committees supporting or opposing the 129 statewide measures in 2020. Contribution totals increase rapidly in October due to pre-election campaign finance reports. Colorado currently ranks #4 among states with the highest ballot measure campaign contributions, behind California ($547.5 million), Illinois ($110.4 million), and Massachusetts ($55.2 million).

In 2018, Ballotpedia tracked $1.185 billion in contributions to the ballot measure campaigns supporting and opposing the 167 certified 2018 measures. 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.

Additional reading:



Missouri voters to decide amendments concerning redistricting, term limits on November 3

On November 3, Missouri voters will decide on Amendment 1 and Amendment 3. Amendment 1 proposes limiting state executives to two terms. Amendment 3 would repeal provisions of a 2018 redistricting initiative and reinstate—with certain changes—a political redistricting commission. Missouri Amendment 2 of 2020, a Medicaid expansion initiative, was put on the ballot for the August primary election.

Amendment 1 would limit the lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state auditor, and attorney general to two terms of office in a lifetime. Missouri approved a ballot measure that enacted the same term limits for the governor in 1965 with 72.96% of the vote. Currently, Missouri is one of eight states to limit the governor to two terms in a lifetime. Thirty-six states have some type of term limit on the office of governor, and 14 states have no limit. 

The following is a breakdown of the number of states with no term limits for state executive offices:

  1. 23 states do not limit the terms of lieutenant governors;
  2. 31 states do not limit the terms of secretaries of state;
  3. 33 states do not limit the terms of attorneys general;
  4. 13 states do not limit the terms of state treasurer; and
  5. 17 states do not limit the terms of state auditors (or equivalent positions).

The Missouri Legislature referred Amendment 1 to the ballot. The Senate approved it 31 to three. The House approved it 114 to 32. Missouri State Senator Tony Luetkemeyer (R), the sponsor of the measure, said, “The voters of Missouri have made it clear they emphatically support term limits. This measure will bring consistency to our term limits for all state officials and prevent them from becoming career politicians.”

The legislature also referred Amendment 3 to the ballot. The state Senate passed Amendment 3 in a vote of 22 to nine. All but one of the 23 Senate Republicans voted in favor of the amendment. All eight Democrats voted against it. The state House passed Amendment 3 in a vote of 98 to 56 with eight absent.

Amendment 3 would return the state to the use of bipartisan commissions—one for the Senate and one for the House—to draw district maps. The commissions would each have 20 members, rather than 18 and 10, respectively. Commissioners would be appointed by the governor from nominees provided by committees of the two largest political parties.

Amendment 3 would also allow the use of citizen voting-age population instead of total population for the census and redistricting process.

Amendment 3 would also eliminate the nonpartisan state demographer, which was created by the approval of Amendment 1 (2018), a citizen initiative referred to by supporters as “Clean Missouri.” Amendment 1 was approved with 62.02% of the vote.

In addition to changing the redistricting process, Amendment 1 added partisan fairness and competitiveness to the criteria used to draw district lines. Amendment 3 would require that equal population, voter rights abridgment, contiguous districts, and simple shapes are given higher priority than partisan fairness and competitiveness. It would also increase the percentage of wasted votes allowed in the calculation of minimum partisan fairness.

Amendment 1 (2018) required legislators and legislative employees to wait two years after the conclusion of the legislative session in which the legislator or employee served to become a paid lobbyist and prohibited legislators and legislative employees from accepting gifts from paid lobbyists in excess of $5. Amendment 3 would change this amount to $0. 

Amendment 3 would also lower the campaign contribution limit for state Senate campaigns from $2,500, which was set by Amendment 1, to $2,400.

State Senator Dan Hegeman (R), the sponsor of the amendment, said, “It is my great concern that our communities will find their voices diminished in Jefferson City (in the state Legislature), because of the liberal think tank ideas contained in the criteria of Amendment 1, passed in 2018.” 

The campaign in support of Amendment 3 is sponsored by Fair Missouri, which has reported $246,669 in contributions.

Clean Missouri is registered in opposition to the measure and reported $4.1 million in contributions. The top donors to the committee were the National Education Association ($1.5 million), the North Fund ($1.2 million), and the Action Now Initiative ($1.1 million).

In a letter to the state auditor, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson (D) said, “[Amendment 3] would have a significant fiscal impact on local governments and small businesses in Missouri if the population standard for state legislative maps is changed from using total population to a citizen voting-age population or eligible voter standard. … We should expect a significant impact on Missouri’s small businesses, the local economy, local sales taxes, local lodging taxes, and state income taxes if maps are drawn in a discriminatory way that disproportionately impacts Missourians of color.”

Missouri modified its absentee/mail-in voting procedures for the November 3 election to allow any registered voter to cast an absentee ballot (subject to a notarization requirement) in the general election. Requests to vote absentee must be received by 5:00 p.m. on October 21. Absentee ballots must be received by election authorities by 7:00 p.m. on November 3. Polls will be open from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on election day.

Additional reading:

Missouri Amendment 1, State Executive Term Limits Amendment (2020)

Missouri Amendment 3, Redistricting Process and Criteria, Lobbying, and Campaign Finance Amendment (2020)



Oregon, Washington, D.C. to vote on ballot measures that address psilocybin, also known as magic mushrooms

In November, Oregon could be the first state to approve a ballot initiative, Measure 109, that legalizes psilocybin. Washington, D.C., is also voting on a measure related to psilocybin and other entheogenic plants and fungi.

Currently, psilocybin, which is derived from certain species of fungi, is listed as a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. 

In Oregon, Measure 109 would create a program for administering psilocybin, such as psilocybin-producing mushrooms and fungi, to individuals aged 21 years or older. People would be allowed to purchase, possess, and consume psilocybin at a psilocybin service center and under the supervision of a psilocybin service facilitator after undergoing a preparation session.

Measure 109 faces opposition from a Portland-based group that seeks to decriminalize psilocybin. Zave Forster of Decriminalize Nature Portland stated, “We are concerned about the implications of an elite group of beneficiaries putting a free medicine that grows naturally out of the ground behind a paywall.”

Washington, D.C. is voting on a ballot measure, Initiative 81, to declare that police shall treat the non-commercial cultivation, distribution, possession, and use of entheogenic plants and fungi among the lowest law enforcement priorities. Initiative 81 would define entheogenic plants and fungi as species of plants and fungi that contain ibogaine, dimethyltryptamine, mescaline, psilocybin, or psilocyn. 

Denver, Colorado, was the first local jurisdiction to vote on, and approve, a ballot measure to declare that the adult use and possession of psilocybin mushrooms were of the city’s lowest law enforcement priorities. In California, the Oakland City Council and Santa Cruz City Council passed resolutions to de-prioritize law enforcement actions against entheogenic plants. Most recently, Ann Arbor, Michigan, became the fourth jurisdiction to declare entheogenic plants to be considered the city’s lowest law enforcement priorities.

Both Oregon Measure 109 and D.C. Initiative 81 share a common top funder—the New Approach PAC. The organization is based in Washington, D.C., and supported marijuana legalization measures in previous election cycles. Between 2014 and 2018, New Approach contributed at least $6.9 million to campaigns supporting recreational or medical marijuana measures. Tax filings from prior years show that New Approach received funding from the Van Ameringen Foundation and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. In both Oregon and D.C., no political action committees were organized to oppose the measures.

Additional reading:



Statewide ballot measures written at first-year graduate school reading level

2020 ballot measure readability analysis: ballot language is written at an average reading grade level of 17 (first-year graduate school), down from between 19 and 20 in 2018

The average statewide ballot measure in 2020 is written at a reading grade level of 17, similar to the reading level in first-year graduate school. The 2020 reading level is down from between 19 and 20 in 2018, according to Ballotpedia’s annual analysis of the readability of ballot language for the 128 statewide measures across 34 states in 2020.

Below are some of the highlights of the report.

• The average Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level for the ballot titles (ballot questions) of all 128 statewide 2020 ballot measures was about 17.

• The average ballot title grade for all measures in a single state averaged together ranged from 10 in Rhode Island, Washington, and Wyoming to 32 in Virginia.

• In 2018, the average Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level for ballot titles was between 19 and 20, and average state scores ranged from eight to 42.

• Ballotpedia identified 67 measures with a ballot summary that was set to appear alongside the ballot question on the ballot. The average Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level for the ballot summaries was about 14.

• The average ballot summary grade for all measures in a single state averaged together ranged from 10 in Louisiana and Maryland to 20 in Arkansas.

• The average ballot title grade was highest for ballot titles written by state legislatures (19) and other state boards and offices (18).

• Initiative proponents wrote the ballot language for eight of the measures (in some cases, with help from state officials). The average ballot title grade for those measures was 15.

• Attorneys general wrote titles with the lowest average grade level of 14.

• The average ballot title in 2020 contained about 60 words. In 2018, the average ballot title length was 66 words.

• The 2020 ballot measure with the longest ballot title was Colorado Proposition 118 concerning a paid family and medical leave program. The ballot question had 270 words.

• The states with the shortest ballot titles or questions on average were Florida, California, Iowa, and Alaska; all of these except Iowa did feature additional ballot summaries or explanations.

Additional readings:



30 committees supporting and opposing Colorado’s November ballot measures have raised over $39 million, spent over $32 million

Eleven statewide ballot measures are certified to appear on the November 3 ballot in Colorado. Ballotpedia identified 30 committees supporting and opposing 10 of the measures. The 30 committees had raised $39,321,079.49 and had spent $32,226,098.34 according to reports due on October 5 that covered information through September 30. The next reports are due on October 19.

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

The citizen-initiated measures are Amendments 76 and 77 and Propositions 113 through 118. Campaigns surrounding the citizen-initiated measures raised 77.11% of the funds ($30.3 million of the $39.3 million total) and accounted for 78% of the expenditures ($25.3 million of the $32.2 million total).

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 committees supporting Proposition EE raised $3.6 million. Opponents raised $3.5 million.

The state legislature referred two constitutional amendments: Amendment B would repeal the Gallagher Amendment and freeze current property tax assessment rates. Amendment C would amend charitable gaming requirements. Amendment B supporters raised $1.6 million, and opponents raised $202,730.

Ballotpedia did not identify committees supporting or opposing Amendment C.

The two largest contributors to 2020 ballot measure campaigns were the Sixteen Thirty Fund and the North Fund. The Sixteen Thirty fund has given $3,083,667.64 in total to Colorado Families First supporting a paid family and medical leave program and to Abortion Access for All opposing abortion restrictions. The North Fund has given $3,200,000.00 million to the same committees.

In 2018, Ballotpedia tracked $1.185 billion in contributions to the ballot measure campaigns supporting and opposing the 167 certified 2018 measures. 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.

So far in 2020, Ballotpedia has tracked $872.6 million in contributions to committees supporting or opposing the 128 statewide measures. Contribution totals increase rapidly in October due to pre-election campaign finance reports. Colorado currently ranks #4 among states with the highest ballot measure campaign contributions.

Additional reading:



What statewide ballot measures will Washington voters decide on November 3?

Voters in Washington will decide six statewide ballot measures on November 3: two binding measures and four nonbinding tax advisory questions. This year is the first presidential election year since 1928 in which the Washington ballot will not feature an Initiative to the People (ITP), a citizen-initiated state statute for which groups collect signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Referendum 90:
The only citizen-initiated measure on the 2020 ballot in Washington is Referendum 90.

The Washington State Legislature passed and the governor signed Senate Bill 5395 (SB 5395) in March 2020. SB 5395 was designed to require comprehensive sexual health education in public schools. Opponents of the bill, organized as “Parents for Safe Schools,” collected signatures to place SB 5395 on the ballot and are advocating for a reject vote on the measure, which would repeal Senate Bill 5395. A vote to approve the referendum would allow SB 5395 to go into effect.

The bill is on hold pending the result of the election.
Parents for Safe Schools said, “Reject Referendum 90. Stop the early sexualization of our kids. Materials to meet the new state standards will include graphic sexual subject matter. These are decisions that should be left to parents and local communities. … [The bill is] a costly mandate at a time when school budgets are being cut. State and local budgets are facing massive deficits which threaten funding for basic programs.”

Washington State Senator Claire Wilson (D), a sponsor of the SB 5395, said, “Some people hear the words ‘sex education’ and mistake the focus of the curriculum, which is health and safety and is age-appropriate for each grade level. This is about making sure younger children know what kind of touching is inappropriate, whether by peers or predators. It’s about helping older students recognize and resist abusive or coercive behavior.”

Senate Joint Resolution 8212:
The state legislature referred Senate Joint Resolution 8212, a constitutional amendment, to the 2020 ballot. The amendment would allow the Washington Legislature to invest the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Account and the Long-Term Care Services and Supports Trust Account into stocks or other methods of investment.

Currently, the Washington Constitution prohibits the state from investing funds into stocks or other methods of investment, limiting investment capabilities of the state to government and corporate bonds and certificates of deposit. Some other funds have been made exempt from that constitutional restriction, including the following:

  • public pension and retirements funds;
  • industrial insurance trust funds; and
  • funds that benefit individuals with developmental disabilities.

Advisory Votes 32, 33, 34, and 35:

Advisory Votes 32-35 were automatically referred to the ballot as required under Initiative 960, which was passed in 2007. I-960 requires an advisory vote to be referred to voters concerning any law passed by the legislature that creates or increases taxes or fees. The outcome of the question is nonbinding and does not result in a new, changed, or rejected law. Rather, the vote serves to advise the legislature whether or not to maintain or repeal a bill they passed.

Thirty-one advisory votes have been on the statewide ballot in Washington between 2012 and 2019. Voters voted in favor of advising the legislature to maintain 10 of the bills. In the other 21 cases, voters voted to advise the legislature to repeal the bill in question.

Twelve tax advisory votes were on the ballot in 2019. Voters voted to advise the legislature to maintain three bills and repeal the other nine.

Together, the four advisory vote questions on the 2020 ballot represent bills increasing state revenue by an estimated $2 billion over 10 years.

Summaries of the measures are below:

  • Advisory Vote 32 concerns Senate Bill 5323, which was designed to levy a tax on certain carryout bags provided by retailers.
  • Advisory Vote 33 concerns Senate Bill 5628, which was designed to levy a tax on heavy equipment rentals.
  • Advisory Vote 34 concerns Senate Bill 6492, which was designed to increase the business and occupation tax rate and reduce certain surcharges.
  • Advisory Vote 35 concerns Senate Bill 6690, which was designed to increase the business and occupation tax rate on commercial airplane manufacturers.

A total of 60 measures appeared on the statewide ballot in Washington during even years from the 18-year period between 2000 and 2018. 58% (35) were approved and 42% (25) were defeated.

Additional Reading:
https://ballotpedia.org/Washington_2020_ballot_measures