Election Propositions Results Hidden on Ballots
Unlike some ballot initiatives, which receive a lot of attention from news coverage and campaign fundraising, other proposals are buried on the bottom of ballots. They may be difficult for voters to find and understand.
Mary Creasman of California Environmental Voters said a combination of factors led to the defeat of Prop 30: the governor’s opposition, the Sierra Club’s neutrality and the controversy over whether timber companies or Lyft were funding it.
Proposition 1: Right to Abortion
Since the Supreme Court ruled that individual states control abortion rights, most have chosen to regulate them. The west coast states of Washington, Oregon, and California, the island state of Hawaii, and ten other states (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, Rhode Island, Vermont, Minnesota, and Illinois) have laws protecting abortion access. In many states, however, abortion is completely banned or only available with significant restrictions.
This year, Ohio voters rejected a measure to enshrine a strict, anti-abortion amendment in the state constitution. The effort was backed by a powerful coalition that includes Gov. Gavin Newsom, Planned Parenthood, and a host of women’s and reproductive rights organizations. Voters also voted to reject efforts in Arkansas and South Dakota to raise the 60% supermajority required for approval of constitutional amendments. These votes ensure that the lower, less restrictive bar will remain in place in 2022 and beyond.
Proposition 2: Taxes
Voters have rejected a ballot measure that would have let California tribes and gambling companies offer sports betting online. The AP has made the race call, but it could take days or weeks before all ballots are counted.
Mary Creasman, CEO of the environmental group California Environmental Voters, says Newsom’s role in the “No on 30” campaign was a major factor in the measure’s defeat. She says public polling showed that support eroded after the governor cut his first ad criticizing it.
The measure’s failure may also reveal something about Californians’ policy priorities. It’s complicated, but voters seemed to be “picky” about the propositions they gave the green light to. For example, obscure residential property tax rule changes got more traction than higher-profile ones designed to improve local government funding. They also embraced measures that addressed homelessness and housing instability while rejecting those focused on the coronavirus pandemic. That suggests that Californians are willing to be progressive if they can make the case for it.
Proposition 3: Land Banks
Ten years after the housing crisis, systemic poverty and inequality continue to undermine neighborhood stability in cities across America. In response, states and localities across the United States have adopted land banks – government-owned entities with broad powers to acquire abandoned or foreclosed property, repurpose it, and return it to productive use — as a key tool to stabilize communities and support investment.
In addition to purchasing and redeveloping properties, land banks can make them available for low-income residents or non-profits who meet certain criteria. They can also impose specific restrictions on the sale of a property, such as requiring that developers agree to set aside affordable housing units in a development project.
State laws establishing land banks typically include tax recapture provisions, which allow the entity to recoup some of the back taxes it collects on property sales for a specified number of years. These provisions can help land banks establish a sustainable funding source, and ensure that their activities are aligned with community priorities.
Proposition 4: Voter ID
For years, voter ID has been one of the most contentious political issues in America. Republicans have pushed for it as a necessary precaution against fraud, while Democrats accuse it of disenfranchising voters from marginalized groups.
Despite this, polls consistently show that majorities of Americans support the measure. The recent Monmouth poll found that 64% of Democrats and 87% of independents back it, which is especially striking given the intense political fight.
Evaluating the effect of these laws is difficult for a number of reasons, including infrequent elections, the short periods of time that strict ID requirements are in place, and ongoing legal challenges. However, what we do know is that they have failed to prevent the rare instances of fraud and instead have had an impact on turnout in places where they are in place. These effects are lessened when competition is taken into account, but they remain significant. This may partially explain why turnout varies so much in places with and without photo ID.