DemDaily: Ballot Initiatives in Your State

July 26, 2022 

Americans in 35 states will vote on 116 statewide ballot measures on November 8, 2022.

In a year when control of the US House and Senate are at stake, major support or opposition to a ballot measure can help drive voter turnout and impact the outcome of other elections on the ticket.

While there are numerous types of measures, ballot initiatives, measures driven by citizens, have been a part of our electoral process for 120 years -- as a form of direct democracy and as an avenue for checking legislative powers.

Today, twenty-six states and DC grant their citizens amendment, statute and/or veto referendum power through that process. All states, with the exception of Delaware, require voters to ratify proposed state constitutional amendments.

See DemDaily: Moving Measures in The States. A guide to Ballot Initiatives 7/19/22

Types of Ballot Measures
Measures come primarily in the form of citizen initiatives or referendums, or through legislative referral.

Citizen Initiatives
Citizen Initiated Constitutional Amendment (CICA) or State Statute (CISS): Also called a direct initiative, it is when a measure is put directly to a popular vote after being submitted by citizen petition.

* Indirect Initiated Constitutional Amendment (IndICA) or State Statute (IndISS): A measure is first referred to the legislature, and then only put to a popular vote if not enacted by the legislature.

* Veto Referendum (VR): Also called a citizen or popular referendum, it allows voters to approve or repeal an act of their state's legislature through citizen petition.

Legislative Referrals
*  Legislatively Referred Constitutional Amendment (LRCA) or State Statute (LRSS): Allows a state legislature to put a constitutional amendment or state statute up for popular vote.

*  Bond Issue (BI): When a state government or a local unit of government places a question before the voters, asking them to approve or deny additional proposed spending.

Others: Advisory Questions, Automatic Ballot Referrals, Commission Referral, and Convention Referred Constitutional Amendment.

Over the last two decades, the average number of statewide measures in odd years was 38, and 184 in even years, with hundreds more at the local level.

2022 Measures
Historically, major wedge or publicly controversial initiatives are usually held in on-election (even) years when congressional and more electoral seats are up. 2022 is no exception.

In lieu of federal legislation, state legislatures have increasingly looked to ballot measures to enact political change.

We see that positively in Illinois, where voters are expected to enshrine collective bargaining rights for unions in their constitution, and in Nevada, where they hope to raise the minimum wage and pass an equal rights amendment.

Oregon is proposing an increase in gun safety requirements and, along with Tennessee and Vermont, is expected to amend antiquated constitutional language that allows for some form of slavery and involuntary servitude.

New Mexico will vote on increasing early childhood education funding, and efforts to expand legalized Marijuana use are on the ballot in Maryland and South Dakota.

Unfortunately, the initiative process is also being used effectively by lawmakers and conservative leaders in red and purple states to deny voters of their most fundamental voting, civil and personal rights.

In the wake of the Supreme Court's decision overturning Roe v. Wade, at least five statewide ballot measures addressing abortion will be on the ballot in the general election. In the interim, Kansas is poised to pass an August 2 primary constitutional amendment to ban abortion and public abortion funding. A similar amendment will go before the voters in Kentucky in November, along with one criminalizing abortion providers and patients in Montana.

There are also a record number of democracy issues on the ballot. Of those, six direct attacks on the initiative process have qualified for November, including in Arizona and Arkansas, to make it harder to pass initiatives or to more easily reverse voter-approved decisions.

According to the Ballotpedia, there are another 46 potential measures, including 39 initiated ballot measures and 7 referred ballot measures, that could still appear on the ballot in 2022.

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Kimberly Scott

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Sources: Ballotpedia, Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, The Fairness Project

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