Midterm Election 2022: How Direct Democracy Impacted Voting and Election Rules
In addition to control of the U.S. House and Senate, last week’s election also featured a number of ballot initiatives focused on voting and election policies.
Voters cast their ballots to approve pro-democracy measures in Connecticut, Michigan, and Nevada, while voters in Alabama, Nebraska, and Ohio endorsed restrictive voting and election policies. In addition, voters in Arizona rejected a measure that would have implemented restrictive voter ID policies for in-person and mail voting. Along with shifting control of state governments across the country, this year’s ballot initiatives will play a significant role in shaping democracy as we head into the next election in 2024.
Voters in Alabama approved a concerning amendment to the state’s constitution which will prevent the state legislature from making any changes to voting and election policies within six months of an election. This new restriction could negatively impact the state’s ability to respond to emergencies in future elections. In 2020, many states were able to quickly adapt policies to account for social distancing and other COVID safety measures, but this measure would limit these kinds of adaptations going forward.
See MAP’s Democracy Profile for Alabama.
Voters in Arizona narrowly rejected a measure to implement strict voter ID requirements for in-person voting and mail voting. If passed, Arizona would have joined the strictest category of state voter ID laws by requiring photo identification to vote in-person and not allowing voters to provide alternative ID documents. In addition, the measure would have required voters to provide ID numbers on mail ballots; similar restrictions have led to an increase of ballot rejections in states like Georgia and Texas.
See MAP’s Democracy Profile for Arizona.
Connecticut voters resoundingly approved a potential amendment to the state constitution to allow in-person early voting. State law now requires that the legislature approve the amendment in the upcoming session before it takes effect, and the legislature is expected to do so next year. Connecticut is currently one of only four states that do not allow any form of early voting, along with Alabama, Mississippi and New Hampshire.
See MAP’s Democracy Profile for Connecticut.
Michigan voters approved an amendment to the state constitution which implements a number of pro-democracy policies in the state. The measure enacts nine days of traditional in-person early voting (the state had previously only offered in-person absentee voting). Improvements to mail voting policies were also part of the measure, including codifying the use of ballot drop boxes, requiring voters be able to correct errors with their mail ballots and providing prepaid ballot postage. The amendments also incorporate important policies to protect democracy, including requirements to ensure post-election audits are conducted in a nonpartisan manner, and removing the ability of canvassing boards to make partisan decisions involving certifying election results.
See MAP’s Democracy Profile for Michigan.
Two-thirds of Nebraska voters approved an initiative that will establish strict voter ID requirements in the state, with photo ID required to vote. These kinds of laws created a problematic barrier to voting for many eligible voters. The state legislature will be responsible for implementing legislation, but Nebraska is now expected to become the 11th state in our strictest category of voter ID requirements.
See MAP’s Democracy Profile for Nebraska.
Voters in Nevada narrowly approved a measure that represents the first step for the state to adopt nonpartisan top-five primaries, as well as ranked choice voting for statewide general elections. Voters will need to approve the measure a second time in 2024 before the policies would take effect. If passed in 2024, Nebraska would become only the fifth state to adopt nonpartisan primaries, and the third state to implement ranked choice voting for statewide elections.
See MAP’s Democracy Profile for Nevada.
Voters in Ohio approved an amendment to the state constitution which bans noncitizens from voting in local elections, becoming the seventh state to do so. Some areas allow non-citizens to vote in a local school board election, for example, so that parents are able to have a say in school administration for their kids, even if though they remain ineligible to vote in other elections at the state and federal level. Voters in Louisiana will cast their ballots to decide on a similar measure in December.
See MAP’s Democracy Profile for Ohio.