The NCSL Blog


By Claudia Kania

As a student at Stanford, a university located at the epicenter of Silicon Valley, I am hyper-aware of the contemporary issues salient to the tech industry.

Protesters hang a banner during a demonstration in front of the home of Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi on June 24, 2020 in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesThrough my field of study, which addresses the intersection of data, politics and computer science, I am deeply interested in how technology shapes our political system and vice versa. During my time as an intern for NCSL’s Elections and Redistricting Program, I have used my interests and knowledge to analyze data and create visualizations of ballot measures.

The tech-related ballot measures facing Golden State voters particularly sparked my interest. The tech industry is constantly evolving, and some of these issues are making their first-ever appearance on the ballot.

For example, I was intrigued by Proposition 22, a citizen initiative that addresses the intersection of labor, transportation and technology. It’s the first app-related measure to appear on the ballot, and if it 22 passes, app-based rideshare and delivery drivers would need to be classified as “independent contractors,” rather than employees. Furthermore, the measure would exempt app-hired employees from the contractor criteria established by AB 5, which California passed in 2019. Prop 22 would also require employers to adopt certain labor practices, such as implementing a net earnings floor and limiting the number of hours employees can work within a single day.

Proposition 24, also a citizen initiative, seeks to protect personal information and consumer agency by establishing the California Privacy Protection Agency. In the age of Big Data, personal information is a commodity of immense value. Prop 24’s focus on personal data shared and gathered online reflects the technological revolution that has expanded within in the 21st century.

Tech-related ballot measures are not limited to California. In Michigan, SJR G would require a search warrant to access electronic data. And in Massachusetts, the “Right to Repair Act” would require vehicle manufacturers to equip their products with “a standardized open data platform” that could be utilized by consumers via a mobile-based application. This means that both drivers and independent repair technicians will be able to access mechanical data wirelessly.

Ballot measures often represent hot-button issues and prominent societal concerns. The ballot measures of 2020 are no different, reflecting the technological advances that is gripping the second decade of the 21std century.

If you would like to track or read more about these ballot measures, be sure to check out NCSL’s complete ballot measures database.

Claudia Kania is an intern in the NCSL elections and redistricting program and a rising junior at Stanford University.

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This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.