By large margins voters said “YES” to sweeping reforms in how we register and vote. Amidst high youth voter turnout, ballot measures rode a wave of support to change how we do redistricting, register voters, pay for campaigns, re-engage ex-offenders, cast and count votes.

Independent Redistricting Commissions

Americans voted overwhelmingly to take away the power of legislators to draw their own election districts and choose their voters before the voters choose them. Colorado, Michigan, Missouri and Utah approved Independent Redistricting Commissions to oversee redistricting. “Yes” is leading in Utah. Each commission is required to follow set criteria, public input and transparency. This vote builds on independent commissions used in California and Arizona and democracies similar to the U.S.

Expanding Voter Registration

Voters acted to ensure registration is a doorway to voting and not a barrier. Nevada and Michigan passed Automatic Voter Registration, bringing the number to 16 states that automatically enroll new voters at motor vehicles and other government services. Maryland and Michigan voters passed Election Day Registration bringing the total to 19 states that let voters to register or fix a registration issue when they vote.

Restoring the Right to Vote

A past conviction is no longer a life sentence without the right vote for over a million people in Florida. Voters regain the right to vote after they’ve completed all terms of their sentence. This leaves Iowa and Kentucky as the only states to permanently disenfranchise all people with past felonies.

Reducing Money in Politics

Voters spoke loudly in several cities and states to reduce the role of big money in politics. Baltimore, Denver, and Portland, Oregon* joined the movement for small donor-driven public funding of campaigns. North Dakota and Missouri set new limits and disclosure requirements on campaign contributions, spending and lobbyists.

Ranked-Choice Voting

Voters continue to vote “YES” for Ranked-Choice Voting. The popular reform, adopted by Maine and 12 cities, gives voters more choice and ensures majority winners. In Memphis, voters rejected a decade-long effort by the city council to repeal it, forcing the city to move forward. But it was a split decision for two lesser-known variations of ranked-voting. Fargo, North Dakota voted 2-1 to replace plurality voting with “Approval Voting.” Lane County, Oregon rejected “STAR Voting (Score Then Automatic Runoff).”

In the midst of close elections across the country, one of the biggest trends among all voters was a growing call to upgrade U.S. democracy and ensure every eligible American can vote, with more political competition on a more level playing field.

Full Results (updated Nov 7 5pm)

STATE BALLOT MEASURE TOPIC YES   (Pro-Reform bold)  % Reporting
Colorado Amendment Y Independent Redistricting Commission 71% 100%
Colorado Amendment Z Independent Redistricting Commission 71% 100%
Colorado – Denver Measure 2E Small Donor Public Campaign Funding 69% 100%
Florida Amendment 4 Restore Voting Rights for Ex-Offenders 64% 99%
Maryland Question 2 Election Day Registration 67% 98%
Maryland-Baltimore City Question H Small Donor Public Campaign Funding 75% 100%
Massachusetts Question 2 Constitutional amendment on Political Spending and Corporate ‘Personhood’ 71% 99%
Michigan Proposal 2 Independent Redistricting Commission 61% 100%
Michigan Proposal 3 Election Day Reg., Automatic Voter Reg., Straight Ticket Voting, No Excuse Absentee Voting 67% 100%
Missouri Amendment 1 Independent Redistricting Commission, Campaign Finance and Lobbying Limits 62% 99%
Nevada Question 5 Automatic Voter Registration 60% 100%
North Dakota Measure 1 Disclosure of Campaign Contributions, Ethics reform 54% 100%
North Dakota-Fargo city Measure 1 Approval Voting – a ranked voting method 64% 100%
Oregon-Portland city Measure 20-200 Campaign Finance Limits – tied to public financing 88% 99%
Oregon-Lane County Measure 26-290 STAR voting – a ranked voting method 47% 99%
South Dakota Amendment W Limits on Lobbying and Campaign Finance 45% 100%
Tennessee-Memphis city Ref. Ord. No. 5677 Repeal Ranked Choice Voting (Passed by voters in 2008 but never implemented by the city council.) NO=56% 100%
Utah Proposition 4 Independent Redistricting Commission 50.1% 95%

Source: State election websites and  Ballotpedia

Notes:

  • Utah has a thin but steady lead for its redistricting measure, but not called yet.
  • Portland’s new campaign spending limits passed in advance of starting public election funding
  • A “No” vote in Memphis was to reject the latest and final effort of the City Council to delay implementation. Actors Jennifer Lawrence and Ed Helms weighed for ranked choice voting. As did Tom Perez, DNC chair, who said voters deserve more choices and candidates the incentive that ranked-choice provides to talk to voters beyond their base.
  • Fargo passed a “boutique” but equally effective version of ranked choice

 

 

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