Democracy On The Ballot 2019
In just a few days, many voters will decide on innovative and important democracy reform ballot measures in cities and states across the country. The initiatives on the 2019 election ballot follow the 22 pro-democracy ballot measures passed in the 2018 elections on the state and local level, including on gerrymandering, campaign finance, ethics, and voting rights.
Here is a look at the key 2019 democracy reform ballot measures:
New York, New York: Ranked Choice Voting & Government Accountability Reforms
This November, voters in New York City – the country’s largest city – will decide on adopting a new, innovative way to vote in city elections. Common Cause New York is leading a diverse coalition in the Rank The Vote campaign. The proposal on the ballot (Question 1) will create a ranked choice voting system for Mayor, Comptroller, Public Advocate, Borough Presidents, and City Council in primary and special elections to be implemented by 2021. Under the proposal, instead of voting for just one candidate, voters can rank their top five candidates in their local primary and special elections. If voters still want to vote for just one candidate, they can. To learn more about ranked choice voting and this ballot measure, visit rankthevotenyc.org.
Common Cause New York is also supporting four other New York City ballot initiatives which will:
- Strengthen the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the independent oversight agency that investigates police misconduct
- Strengthen ethics and conflicts of interest laws for local officials
- Protect the budgets of key elected officials and streamline the city’s budgeting process
- Give the public and community more time to review rezoning and real estate projects
Find out more about all of New York City’s ballot measures here.
UPDATE: All of these measures passed with over 70% of voters casting their ballot in favor on each issue. Ranked choice voting passed 73.5%-26.5%.
Albuquerque, New Mexico: Democracy Dollars & Strengthening Public Financing
In effort to make candidates for local elected office pay more attention to everyday voters instead of just big donors, Albuquerque voters will decide on adopting a “Democracy Dollars” program (Proposition 2) that will automatically give every registered voter a $25 coupon in the mail to give to the candidate of their choice. Seattle, Washington implemented a similar program in 2017 and has had great results by dramatically increasing the number of small dollar donors in local elections. Common Cause New Mexico strongly supports Proposition 2 and is helping lead the campaign to pass it. Additionally, Proposition 1 will strengthen the city’s existing public financing system by increasing everyday people’s ability to participate and give to their candidate of choice. To learn more about the Democracy Dollars ballot proposal in Albuquerque (Proposition 2), visit www.burquebucks.org and to learn more about Proposition 1, click here.
UPDATE: Unfortunately, the Albuquerque Democracy Dollars measure (Proposition 2) came up just short of passing, with 48.7% voting in favor and 51.3% voting against. However, Proposition 1 did pass with 57.8% of the vote.
Syracuse, New York: Independent Redistricting Commission
Voters in Syracuse will decide on a charter amendment will require future local redistricting to be done by an independent redistricting commission that includes members of both parties and safeguards against conflicts of interest from the members of the commission. Read more about the measure here and here.
UPDATE: This measure passed with 76% voting in favor of establishing an independent redistricting commission.
San Francisco, California: Campaign Finance Reform and Advertising Transparency
San Francisco voters will consider a local initiative to ban LLCs and other corporate entities, and any person with certain levels of financial interests in zoning, city planning, or land-use changes, to contribute to local political candidates. The measure would also expand the requirement of campaigns to disclose their top donors in political advertisements. Read more about the measure here.
UPDATE: This measure passed with 76.5% voting in favor.
Kansas: Census Data & Redistricting Changes
Voters in Kansas will decide on a constitutional amendment to end the state’s practice of adjusting U.S. Census data on military and student populations for the purpose of legislative redistricting. This amendment was referred to the ballot by the state legislature, where it received strong bipartisan support. Leslie Mark, a board member with Indivisible KC, told Common Cause that “it’s one thing that many Kansans of all stripes – Democrat and Republican, rural and urban – agree is overdue.” Read more about the measure here.
UPDATE: This measure passed with 60% voting in favor.
Maine: Alternative Signature For Ballot Petitions
In Maine, people with physical disabilities are able to register to vote and sign candidate petitions using an alternative signature, defined as a signature stamp or having a registered voter sign the petition on the person’s behalf. Question 2, on the statewide ballot in 2019, would apply to same standard to petitions for citizen-initiated ballot measures. Read more about the measure here.
UPDATE: This measure passed with 75.7% voting in favor.
As we approach the 2020 elections, we should expect more pro-democracy measures to end up on the ballot, including…
- National Popular Vote in Colorado
- Campaign finance reform in Oregon
- The citizen initiative process in Arkansas
- Voting rights in Nevada
…and more to come!