Voters in 36 states will also decide on 155 statewide ballot measures (with 13 measures already decided on in earlier elections). Keep an eye on NCSL’s Statewide Ballot Measure Database
for results and see analysis on ballot measures as they are decided on NCSL’s blog
. Pre-election analysis is below.
As of early September 2018, voters have already weighed in on 11 statewide ballot measures, with nine passing and two failing. If those measures foretell November’s results, marijuana will be legalized in more states, redistricting reform will spread, Medicaid will be expanded, infrastructure will be supported and bond measures will stroll into enactment.
Given recent history, however, a citizen initiative has about a 50-50 chance of passage, while legislative referendums hold better odds, at 3-1. But it’s too early to tell just how many measures will end up on ballots this year, how likely any are to pass and what this year’s crop as a whole will mean for state policymaking.
Measures get on the ballot in one of two ways: through a citizen initiative—where citizens have an idea for a statutory or constitutional change, and they gather signatures to get it on the ballot—or through a referral to the ballot from the legislature.
Twenty-six states allow citizens to gather signatures and place measures onto the ballot, while about half of the state legislatures may place statutory laws before voters. In the case of constitutional amendments, almost every legislature must place them before voters, with Delaware the lone exception. For details on the initiative process, visit NCSL’s Initiative, Referendum and Recall webpage.
For the topics below, “LR” refers to legislatively referred measures, “CI” to citizen initiatives, “BI” to bond initiatives and “PR” to popular referendums. Indirect citizen initiatives are listed as “CI.”
So far, many of the usual topics have landed on the ballot somewhere:
- Bond issues in California (five BIs), Colorado (two BIs), Maine (four BIs), New Jersey (one BI), New Mexico (four BIs), Rhode Island (three BIs), and various tax measures in California (two LRs and two CIs), Colorado (two CIs), Florida (two LRs), Georgia (four LRs), Missouri (LR), Montana (LR and CI), Nevada (one LR and one CI), North Carolina (LR), Oklahoma (two LRs), Oregon (two CIs and 1 PR), South Dakota (CI), Utah (three LRs), Virginia (two LRs) and Washington (CI).
- Infrastructure, transportation and energy issues (not counting bonds above) in Arizona (CI), California (two LRs and one CI), Colorado (four CIs), Connecticut (LR), Florida (commission referral), Georgia (two LRs), Louisiana (one LR), Massachusetts (CI), Nevada (two CIs), Oklahoma (LR), Utah (LR) and Washington (CI).
- Gambling in Florida (CI), Idaho (CI), Maryland (LR) and Missouri (LR).
- Public school funding in Arizona (PR), California (CI), Colorado (CI), Georgia (LR), Maryland (LR), Maryland (LR), New Jersey (BI), New Mexico (three BIs), Oklahoma (LR) and Rhode Island (BI).
- Marijuana legalization in Michigan (CI), Oklahoma (CI), North Dakota (CI) and Utah (CI).
- Crime victims bill of rights, also known as Marsy’s law, is at issue in Georgia (LR), Kentucky (LR), Nevada (LR), North Carolina (LR) and Oklahoma (LR), and a measure that revises a previously passed Marsy’s law amendment will appear in South Dakota (LR).
- Expanded full Medicaid in Nebraska (CI), Idaho (CI) and Utah (CI) and expanding funding or removing a planned end date for Medicaid in Oregon (PR) and Montana (CI).
- Minimum wage increases Arkansas (CI), District of Columbia (CI) and Missouri (CI).
Some rarer topics have made it onto statewide ballots:
- Redistricting reform of congressional districts in Colorado (two LRs), Michigan (CI), Missouri (CI), Ohio (LR) and Utah (CI).
- Election-related measures on the re-enfranchisement of convicted felons in Florida (CI).
- Ranked-choice voting in Maine (PR).
- Voter photo ID in Arkansas (LR) and North Carolina (LR).
- Automatic voter registration in Nevada (CI).
- Rules on collecting mail ballots that have been voted in Montana (LR).
- Exemption from sales tax of feminine hygiene products in Nevada (LR).
- Ethics and lobbying issues in Arizona (LR), Florida (commission referral), Missouri (CI), New Mexico (LR), North Carolina (LR), North Dakota (CI) and South Dakota (CI).
- Making it more difficult to raise revenues in Arizona (CI), California (CI), Florida (LR), Oregon (CI) and North Carolina (LR), without including measures on grocery taxes.
And a few of the more hot-button issues are at hand, as well:
- Amendments on restricting abortion rights in Alabama (LR), Oregon (CI) and West Virginia (LR).
- An amendment on placing the Ten Commandments on public property in Alabama (LR).
- A referendum to overturn right-to-work legislation in Missouri (PR).
- A school voucher referendum in Arizona (PR).
- A referendum to repeal a law prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity in Massachusetts (PR).
- Payday lending regulation in Colorado (CI).
- Two semi-competing measures on hydraulic fracturing mining in Colorado (two CIs).
- Gun control or gun safety in Washington (CI).
- Rules for police for use of force in Washington (CI).
- Enforcement of federal immigration laws by local law enforcement in Oregon (CI).