BISC’S Research on Voters of Color + Young Voters

2020 Post-Election Briefing 


Solid majorities of voters — including voters of color — found voting in this general election easier than it has been in previous years. Roughly 9-in-10 voters report having voted on all of the measures or initiatives on the ballot — including similar percentages of Black and Latinx voters, and closer to 8-in-10 AAPI and Gen Z voters. For the relatively small percentage of voters who say they did not vote on all the ballot measures, the reasons they give for skipping them include (overlapping) responses familiar to us all, including not having enough information/being unclear on the outcome of the vote; fear of making a choice that would have an adverse impact on their community; concern about hidden or unintended consequences; and that the ballot language is too complicated. 

Between 7- and 8-in-10 voters in these states agree with all of the positive descriptions of ballot measures, including that ballot measures are an opportunity to pass policies that help my community; that they are a good way for me to make my voice heard in the political process; that ballot measures are a good way for me to make my voice heard and bring about change; and that ballot measures are an opportunity to pass policies that help people like me. In addition, majorities say that knowing where candidates stand on ballot measures can be important information in deciding whom to vote for and that when politicians refuse to take action on issues that are important to their communities, ballot measures provide a way for the people to pass policies that are long overdue. Latinx, Native American, and Gen Z voters are especially likely to see ballot initiatives as a way of making their voices heard and bringing about change.

Among those who ranked ballot measures highly, their feelings are very strongly in support of initiatives as the important vehicle to enact change they want to see.

Voters want to see ballot measures address an ambitious agenda. They think reforms should deal with the immediate challenges they are facing, including healthcare—costs and access; ending systemic racism and police brutality; fully funding education and decreasing student debt; tax fairness; affordable housing; and even universal basic income.

Testimonies from Voters of Color

“I think ballot measures and constitutional amendments are the most important things to vote on as those are immediate laws that directly affect the people. When you vote for individuals, they may fall through on the promises their campaign runs or other things that may happen that may be outside of their control that causes them not to focus on their respective positions.”

— Black man, POC Group, Florida

“Voting matters and I don’t mean voting for the president, the governor, or your mayor but all the way in the back of your ballot. The initiatives that you might’ve skipped because you didn’t get that far or didn’t get to at all because you didn’t get to the voting booth. These measures that many people do not pay much attention to have the biggest impact on your day to day life than any president, mayor or district judge.”

— Black woman, POC Group, California

“These [ballot measures/constitutional amendments] directly affect the laws that I have to live by daily and have the most impact on my day to day life.”

— Black woman, POC Group, California