A voter walks to cast his ballot at the Beacon Hill Library drop box on Election Day in Seattle, Washington, U.S. November 3, 2020. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson


Voters around the U.S. decided on more than their future leaders on Tuesday. Ballot measures looking at a wide range of topics from taxes to redistricting to privacy followed the presidential, congressional and gubernatorial races on ballots nationwide. That doesn’t include the hot button issues. 

California and Michigan opted to protect the privacy of consumers’ data. Redistricting measures were approved in Idaho, Missouri, New Jersey and Virginia. Maryland, Nebraska, South Dakota and Colorado passed gaming initiatives on sports betting, racetrack gambling, and local betting limits. Veterans gained tax breaks in New Jersey, Virginia and Florida.

Marijuana advocates were the big winners nationwide, with five states legalizing marijuana. New Jersey, Arizona and Montana legalized recreational marijuana, while Mississippi passed a medical initiative. South Dakota simultaneously passed both medical and recreational initiatives. Oregon became the first state to legalize psilocybin, the active ingredient in “magic mushrooms.” Oregon’s Measure 110, which would decriminalize small amounts of hard drugs like heroin, cocaine and LSD, is set to pass with 58% of the vote.  Initiative 81 in Washington, D.C. passed easily, decriminalizing a wide range of psychedelics categorized as entheogenic plants and fungi.

Following a summer of unrest sparked by the death of George Floyd in May, multiple states saw racial justice measures on the ballot. Utah and Nebraska voted to remove slavery as a punishment for a crime from their state constitution. It should be noted that the 13th amendment of the U.S. Constitution allows this loophole for legal slavery to this day. Alabama voters approved a measure to remove language from its constitution that disenfranchised African Americans, banned interracial marriages and required segregation in public schools. The state legislature can now rearrange the constitution to remove language deemed racist or repetitive. Mississippi voters approved a new state flag, replacing the confederate stars and bars with a magnolia encircled in stars over vertical red, blue and yellow stripes. Rhode Island officially dropped “Providence Plantations” from its state name. “Whatever the meaning of the term ‘plantations’ in the context of Rhode Island’s history, it carries a horrific connotation when considering the tragic and racist history of our nation,” the state’s only Black senator, Harold Metts, who also introduced the bill, said over the summer. California, generally a left-leaning state, rejected a statewide affirmative action measure, though the state did pass an initiative to restore voting rights to people convicted of felonies but on parole.

Nevada voted to legalize same-sex marriage within the state. Utah passed an amendment to alter gender-specific language to be gender neutral to be more inclusive, including changing husband and wife to “spouse” and male pronouns when referring to legislators to “member”. While Colorado knocked down a late-term abortion ban, Louisiana voters approved a measure to add language that would explicitly state the state’s constitution does not provide any protections for abortion rights.

Questions on citizenship and statehood, both issues impacting Latino communities, arose in several states and one territory. Puerto Rico voted on a statehood referendum for the sixth time, this time passing with 52% of the vote. Although the vote isn’t binding, proponents of the referendum are hoping it will push Congress to recognize the territory as a state. Alabama, Colorado and Florida all approved measures that would enforce citizenship voter requirements.

Additional measures that passed around the nation are as follows:

Amendment 3: longer appointed judge terms

Proposition 208: Increase income tax

Issue 1: Sales Use tax for transportation
Issue 2: Impose term limits

Proposition 22: App-based drivers as Contractors, not Employees

Amendment B: Repeal Property Tax Assess Rates
Proposition 113: National Popular Vote
Proposition 114: Restore Grey Wolves – This proposition is still too close to call, with Yes leading.
Proposition 116: Reduce State Income Tax
Proposition 117: New Enterprise RequirementProposition 118: Family and Medical leave
Proposition EE: Tobacco and Nicotine Tax

Amendment 2: raise minimum wage
Amendment 5: Extend save our homes

Amendment 1: Allow Tax revenue dedication
Amendment 2: Waive Sovereign immunity
Referendum A: Extend charity tax exemption

Amendment 1: Rights for crime victims added to Kentucky constitution

Amendment 2: Oil Gas well property tax method
Amendment 3: Broaden rainy day use fund for federally declared disaster costs

Question 1: Allow General Assembly to change budget

Question 1: Amend Right to Repair law (share data on cars with independent repair shops)

Proposition 20-1: Park Revenue use

Measure 2: Electoral college elimination for gov or statewide offices

Constitutional Amendments 46 and 47: Signature change on Constitutional Amendments and Initiatives

Initiative 428: Cap Pay Day Loan rate

New Mexico
Amendment 1: Reduce Public Regulation Commission from 5 to 3
Amendment 2: Permit Adjusted Office Terms
Bond Measure A: Issue Senior Facility Bonds
Bond Measure B: Issue Library Bonds
Bond Measure C: Issue Education Bonds

Question 3: Revise Board of Pardons Conduct

Measure 107: Amend Campaign Finance

Amendment B: lawmaker eligibility timing (from assuming office to election/appointment)
Amendment D: Revise local water rights 
Amendment E: Add right to hunt and fish to state constitution 
Amendment F: legislative session dates
Amendment G: Expand income property tax uses

Referendum 90: Require sex education


Prop. 17, which will let parolees vote in California, is approved by voters – Los Angeles Times – 11/3/2020
The measure restores the vote to some 50,000 parolees by changing the state Constitution, which disqualifies people with felony convictions from voting until their incarceration and parole are completed. Proposition 17 was supported by 59% of voters, according to the unofficial tally.

Sex education Referendum 90 passes in Washington state election results – The Seattle Times – 11/3/2020
Nearly 60% in Tuesday’s count were favoring Referendum 90, a measure that marks the first time nationwide that a sex education mandate has appeared on a statewide ballot. “It tells us that the majority of Washingtonians are showing really resounding support for comprehensive sex education and that is really, really good news for Washington’s young people,” said Courtney Normand, Washington state director of Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii, who led the campaign.

New Miss. state flag design approved by voters – WLBT – 11/3/2020
Voters said ‘yes’ to a new design for the Mississippi State Flag according to NBC News. Tuesday, thousands across the state cast their vote for a new state flag design after the former flag, bearing a Confederate symbol, was retired this summer.

Voters approve amendment supporting Florida minimum wage increase – Tampa Bay Times – 11/3/2020
It was one of the most-contested ballot issues this year, with many businesses and corporations saying it would be ruinous, particularly during a pandemic. “Just throw another one on. We’ll see if the camel’s back breaks,” said Bill Herrle, executive director for Florida chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business. “This has been a very difficult, challenging year for small business, and 2021 is going to make it more challenging.”

Nebraska Voters OK 36% Cap on Payday Loan Interest – CFO – 11/4/2020
Nebraska has become the latest state to cap interest rates on payday loans that consumer activists say are exorbitant and predatory. In Tuesday’s election, roughly 83% of Nebraska voters approved Initiative 428, which puts a 36% annual limit on the interest payday lenders can charge. Previously, the average interest rate for a payday loan in Nebraska was 404%, according to the Nebraskans for Responsible Lending coalition, which helped get the initiative on the ballot.

Divergent Colorado and Louisiana Abortion Votes Set the Tone for a Possible Post-Roe America – Time – 11/4/2020
In Louisiana, voters approved a measure that will amend the state’s constitution to read that it does not guarantee the right to abortion or the right to funding for abortions. In Colorado, voters rejected an initiative that would have banned abortions at 22 weeks of pregnancy. The moves come as the fight over the future of abortion in the United States escalates. […] With Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the Court last month raising further speculation that Roe could be overturned, these results provide a glimpse into what abortion law could look like without nationwide protections.


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