Results of ballot initiatives

Rachel M. Cohen provides a run down of some of the ballot initiatives that passed yesterday, including one important one in Michigan that reader Mark Dowd has pointed to.

FROM STATE LEGISLATIVE races to the House of Representatives, progressive candidates made a dent in the 2018 election season, and will be relatively well-represented in federal and state-level governments next year. But it’s not just elected office: Left-wing activists also made their voices heard through ballot initiatives across the country. On Tuesday night, progressives walked away with some wins and some losses on that front.

They made gains for Medicaid expansion, public education, and voting rights. But they lost other battles, like on criminal justice reform, nurse-to-patient ratios, and universal home care.

Cohen’s article is worth reading.


  1. DonDueed says

    jrkrideau: Many US states allow the public (which in practice means issue-oriented groups of various kinds) to propose laws. Generally these require a certain level of public support (signatures) to be placed on the ballot. If they do get on the ballot and pass, they become law. However, in some states the legislature can still overturn the initiative or make changes to it, or otherwise interfere (e.g. by providing insufficient funds for implementation).

  2. springa73 says

    Ballot initiatives in US states are a sort of exercise in more direct democracy where proposed (state) laws are presented to the mass of voters who can then vote yes or no on them. Different states have different procedures for getting these proposals added to the ballots, and I think it is easier to do in some states than in others.

    Here in Massachusetts, I voted yes on question 1 -- the proposal for mandatory minimum nurse-to-patient ratios. It lost, though -- like the article Mano linked to says, there was a pretty vigorous campaign against it predicting that it would cause healthcare costs to soar and would result in some smaller hospitals being forced to shut down. I interpreted that as scare tactics, but it’s possible that I’m wrong (wouldn’t be the first, or even the thousandth, time!)

  3. says

    jrkrideau, as a Canadian I just know them as the reason American schools are falling apart because nobody ever votes to have their taxes raised even it makes society better.

  4. Allison says

    Not mentioned was Massachussetts #3, a ballot initiative to repeal that state’s protections for transgender people. The voters voted overwhelmingly (70%) to retain the protections.

    Good to know that if I’m ever in MA and need to use a public toilet, I won’t risk being arrested. At least, not by anybody below the federal level. (I’m expecting the current US administration to try to outlaw people like me entirely.)

  5. Jenora Feuer says

    B.C. has ballot initiatives similar to that; see,_1991 . Using that is how the HST adoption was rolled back in 2011, thanks to people taking Bill Vander Zalm seriously for some stupid reason after the mess he had made of the province previously.

    So they’re not unknown in Canada, though B.C. largely imported the idea from California. And B.C.’s politics have always been a little odd. (Said as someone who grew up there.)

  6. Pierce R. Butler says

    Tabby Lavalamp @ # 3: … nobody ever votes to have their taxes raised even it makes society better.

    Just for the record, yesterday Alachua County (Florida) strongly voted in a half-cent sales tax for the public school system. Yes, we’re very blue here.

  7. ridana says

    And Sacramento* just voted a 1% sales tax increase (making it the highest in the state now), while the state voted to keep the gasoline taxes we pay (I guess we remain optimistic that if we keep voting in enough taxes and bond issues the government will finally actually use the money raised for fixing the roads instead of siphoning it off to pet projects), and rejected lowering property taxes for older homeowners if they downsize to smaller houses. But CA is blue too.

    *At least it appears so now. However, the county still has nearly half the votes yet to count, and say they won’t be done for a couple more weeks. Also, the 1% was a renewal of a 0.5% “temporary” tax plus an additional 0.5% new tax, both now permanent. Whenever they tell you a tax is “temporary,” just understand that they’re lying when you decide to accept it or not. At least this time they were up front about it.

  8. jrkrideau says

    @2 DonDueed
    @3 springa73
    Thanks. It makes sense in some weird way.

    @6 Jenora Feuer
    As a life long resident of ON or QC we always knew BC was…?

  9. Jenora Feuer says

    *laughs* I was born and grew up in B.C. As I’ve told people before, B.C. politics have always been odd. Back when B.C. became a Canadian province, one of the first politicians there changed his name to be ‘Amor de Cosmos’.

    And there’s a reason why the only sitting Green M.P. is in B.C. Particularly out in Saanich and the Gulf Islands, which includes a few of what are pretty much artist’s communes. Just look up Salt Spring Island and the notable residents list:

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