By Brian Hinkle
A year that has roiled the world in unimagined ways has ushered in unprecedented changes to election policy through legislation, executive orders and court rulings.
While the number of ballot measures is down this year due to factors related to the COVID-19 pandemic, voters in 10 states will vote on 13 election-related ballot measures. Some trends have also emerged, including citizenship requirements for voting and ranked-choice voting.
In a new trend, three states will vote on identical ballot measures this year seeking to clarify language in their state constitutions to state “only a citizen” can vote. Alabama Amendment 1, Colorado Amendment 76 and Florida Amendment 1 all seek the same changes in their respective states.
Ranked-choice voting, aka instant runoff voting in which voters rank candidates according to their preferences, is another emerging trend. In most systems, a winner is not declared until one candidate reaches 50% of the vote. Citizen initiatives in Alaska and Massachusetts seek to bring ranked-choice voting to their states. The Alaska measure also includes a vote on open primaries, where all voters can vote without being limited by party affiliation.
Other notable election measures include California Proposition 18, which would allow 17-year-olds who will be 18 by the time of the general election to vote in primary elections. This would put them in the same camp as 19 states and Washington, D.C., who already allow 17-year-olds to participate in primaries. Californians will also vote on whether to restore the right to vote to people convicted of felonies who are on parole. See NCSL’s Felon Voting Rights resource for more information.
Coloradans will decide whether to overturn their legislature’s decision to join the National Popular Vote Compact. Florida voters will weigh in on whether the state should have “top-two” open primary elections-where the top two vote getters advance to the general election regardless of party affiliation. See NCSL’s State Primary Election Types resource for more information.
Find more information on these initiatives, as well as measures on other topics, with NCSL’s Ballot Measures Database.
Brian Hinkle is a research analyst in NCSL’s Elections and Redistricting Program.