15 states vote on election, voting and redistricting questions in midterms
© WikiMedia (Tom Arthur)
15 states vote on election, voting and redistricting questions in midterms

Fifteen states on Tuesday held 20 ballot initiatives related to voting and elections, including statewide measures for new redistributing systems, voting requirements and ballot access, voting rights of felons, and campaign finance initiatives.

Voting rights activists saw expansion to voting access, including Florida restoring voting access to felons who have served their sentences and “motor voter” laws automatically registering individuals to vote at DMVs. On the other hand, Voter ID requirement laws passed in the two states where they were on the ballot—Arkansas and North Carolina.

Four states—Colorado, Michigan, Missouri and Utah—created new redistricting systems for their state legislatures, their congressional districts, or both on November 6. Additionally, Ohio approved a statewide measure and addition to its constitution to establish a new redistricting system in its May 2018 special election. The states and their ballot initiative results include:

  • Colorado approved Amendment Y and approved Amendment Z, both created to establish 12-member independent commissions responsible for approving district maps for Colorado’s congressional districts. There are two amendments because redistricting unfolds in Colorado on two fronts: congressional districts and state legislative districts. Amendment Y would create a commission to redraw congressional boundaries after the 2020 census; Amendment Z will/would have do/done the same for state legislative redistricting.
  • Michigan approved Propsition 2,  a constitutional amendment to establish a commission of citizens with exclusive authority to adopt district boundaries for Michigan Senate, House, and US Congress.
  • Missouri approved Amendment 1, which will employ a nonpartisan state demographer chosen from a panel selected by the state auditor to redraw district boundaries and submit those maps to the house and senate commissions.
  • Utah’s Proposition 4 is currently too close to call, with 50.3% approving the measure and 49% voting against. Proposition 4 will create a seven-member commission—appointed by the Governor (1 appointment), legislative majority leadership (3), and legislative minority leadership (3)—to recommend redistricting plans to the Legislature that divide the state into Congressional, legislative, and state school board districts.

Nine states initiated measures concerning voting requirements and ballot access, including voter identification requirements, term limits, automatic and same-day voter registration, the ability to vote after a felony conviction, the ability to run for office after a felony conviction, and ballot collection.
The states and their ballot initiative results include:

  • Arkansas approved Issue 2, which will require individuals to present a valid photo ID to cast non-provisional ballots in person or absentee.
  • Florida approved Amendment 4, which will automatically restore the right to vote for people with prior felony convictions, except those convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense, upon completion of their sentences, including prison, parole, and probation.
  • Louisiana approved Amendment 1, which will have prohibit a convicted felon from seeking or holding public office or appointment within five years of completion of his or her sentence unless he or she is pardoned. Louisiana voters approved an amendment in 1998 which prevented convicted felons from seeking or holding public office for 15 years following the completion of their sentences, however, this was struck down by the Louisiana Supreme Court in 2016.
  • Maryland approved Question 2, which will establish a process for election-day voter registration.
  • Michigan approved Proposal 3, which includes a number of changes to the Michigan Constitution creating various new voting policies, including straight-ticket voting, automatic voter registration upon driver’s license application or renewal, no-excuse absentee voting, and same-day voter registration.
  • Montana approved LR-129 to ban persons from collecting the election ballots of other people, with exceptions for certain individuals.
  • Nevada approved Question 5, which provides for the automatic voter registration of eligible citizens when at the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
  • North Carolina approved a Voter ID Amendment to require that voters present ID at polls.
  • North Dakota approved Measure 2, designed to have in writing that you must be a U.S. citizen to vote in federal, state, and local elections in North Dakota.

There were also campaign finance and political spending measures in five states:

  • Colorado rejected an amendment to the Colorado constitution which would have set that if any candidate in a primary or general election for state office directs more than $1 million in support of his or her own election, then every candidate for that office in the same election may accept five times the amount of campaign contributions normally allowed.
  • Massachusetts approved Question 2, an initiative to create an advisory commission for any US Constitutional amendments regarding corporate personhood and political spending.
  • Missouri
  • North Dakota approved Measure 2, establishing an ethics commission responsible for adopting rules related to corruption, elections, and lobbying.
  • South Dakota rejected its Amendment W, which would have changed campaign finance and lobbying laws, created a government accountability board, and changed certain initiatives and referendum provisions.
  • South Dakota approved Measure 24, prohibiting contributions to ballot question committees by non-residents, out-of-state political committees, and entities that are not filed with the Secretary of State.

In addition to votes cast for House, Senate, and gubernatorial candidates across the country, 37 states held 155 statewide ballot measures on November 6 midterm elections, including marijuana, healthcare, energy, taxes, minimum wage and abortion.