The Hot Sheet

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE BALLOT MEASURE LANDSCAPE RIGHT NOW

On the Ballot in 2024:

As of May 1, there are 90 measures that have qualified for the 2024 ballot. Of those measures, 64 are legislatively-referred, 19 are citizen-initiated, and 7 are bond issues. 

While 85 of these will be placed on the November 5, 2024 ballot, two measures appeared on Wisconsin’s April 2 spring general election ballot, one measure will appear on North Dakota’s June 11 primary ballot, and two more will appear on Wisconsin’s August 13 fall primary ballot.

To date, there are 259 measures cleared for circulation (Please note that some measures have multiple versions circulating), and 10 measures have submitted signatures.

Measures Qualified by Issue Area:

  • Civil Rights: 7
  • Criminal Legal: 6
  • Direct Democracy: 4
  • Education: 7
  • Elections, Government, and Judiciary: 20
  • Environment: 2
  • Fiscal Policy: 31
  • Healthcare: 4
  • Labor: 5
  • Reproductive Rights: 2
  • Miscellaneous: 2

Attacks on the Ballot Measure Process:

As of May 10, 2024, BISC is tracking 103 bills in 23 states that would alter the citizen initiative process.

Anti-Direct Democracy Measures on Ballot 2024: 

1. Arizona [OPPOSE]: The Arizona legislature referred a constitutional amendment to the November 5, 2024 ballot that would require signatures from 10% of qualified electors from every legislative district in order to qualify for the ballot. For constitutional amendments, that requirement would be 15%. 

2. Colorado [OPPOSE]: This initiative would require an economic impact summary to appear on the ballot with each ballot measure preceding the ballot title. The summary would need to include information on the effect the measure would have on state employment, the state’s gross domestic product (GDP), and the effect on state and local government revenue, expenditures, taxes, and fiscal liabilities.

3. North Dakota [OPPOSE]: North Dakota’s legislature is proposing Constitutional Measure 2 to require initiatives only address a single subject, to raise the signature requirement for petitions, and to require that proposed constitutional initiatives to appear on the ballot and be approved at the primary and general election in order to become effective.

1. Arizona [OPPOSE] Resolution 2049 would allow a person to contest the constitutionality of an initiative measure or amendment in superior court and prohibits the Secretary of State (SOS) from certifying or printing an amendment or measure that is found unconstitutional by a court of competent jurisdiction. 

2. Idaho [OPPOSED]: Signed into law by Idaho Gov. Little, Senate Bill 1377 targets paid petition circulators, requiring that they verbally disclose to signers that they are paid, wear a badge indicating “paid petition circulator”, and more. Unpaid circulators are required to complete a sworn affidavit attesting that they are not being compensated. There will be harsh consequences for failure to comply with any of the provisions, including that any petition for a referendum campaign that fails to comply with the rules be voided. 

What does an attack on direct democracy look like?

Some tactics used by lawmakers who are attempting to weaken the ballot initiative process include:

  • Proposing legislation to make the ballot process harder to access
  • Bringing forth legal challenges against initiatives that have been already been approved by voters
  • Blocking the implementation of ballot measures that have already passed

In 2017, BISC monitored just 33 bills seeking to restrict or alter the ballot measure process. In 2023 legislative sessions, 139 bills were introduced in 35 states that would impact the ballot initiative process, 58 of which would restrict or undermine the process. 

Why are the attacks happening?

Efforts to undermine and weaken ballot measures have been increasing since the 2016 election in response to progressive wins and people-powered democracy at the ballot box. 

In many states, some politicians and wealthy special interests are trying to make it harder for voters to propose and pass ballot initiatives under the cover of so-called “reforms.” These attacks have escalated and have become more nuanced, sophisticated, and would have deeper impacts on the initiative process. These restrictive measures take a variety of forms, but they all serve the same function: to undermine the will of the people and diminish their decision-making power. BISC and our partners are fighting back against these attacks and spearheading the movement to #DefendDirectDemocracy

As we continue to face rising restrictions on voting rights, reproductive freedoms, and civil liberties, it is more important than ever to protect our freedom to shape the laws that govern us — especially through ballot initiatives. Together, we can fight against the anti-democracy initiatives that threaten our livelihoods and work to build a democracy rooted in equity and justice, where all people are treated with dignity and thrive.

Ballot Measure Progress:

Progressive policies are passing at the ballot in Red, Blue, and Purple states such as Florida, Arizona, Missouri, Ohio, Idaho, Minnesota, and Montana. Through the power of direct democracy, the people are transforming power, advancing racial equity, and galvanizing a new progressive base. 

Through the power of direct democracy, citizens have passed policies such as: 

  • Minimum wage increases
  • Protecting and expanding reproductive freedoms
  • Decriminalization of marijuana
  • Paid Family Leave
  • Medicaid expansion
  • Taxing the wealthy
  • Restoration of voting rights
  • Reparations
  • Transforming public safety

Reproductive Freedom Ballot Measures: What’s in Store for 2024

As of May 1, there are efforts underway to put constitutional amendments regarding abortion on the 2024 ballot in as many as 13 states: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota.

On Ballot 2024:

  • Florida Amendment 4: Limiting Government Interference in Abortion: Floridians Protecting Freedom (FPF) is leading the statewide Yes on 4 campaign of allied organizations and concerned citizens working together to protect Floridians’ access to abortion as reproductive health care and defend the right to bodily autonomy. On April 1, 2024, the Florida Supreme Court ruled 4-3 to give the green light for Amendment 4 to appear on the November ballot. The fate of Amendment 4 is especially important because that same day the court ruled 6-1 that Florida’s 15-week abortion ban doesn’t violate their state constitution; this ruling also clears the ruling for a new 6-week ban to take effect.
  • Maryland Right to Reproductive Freedom Initiative: The Right to Reproductive Freedom initiative is a legislative-backed measure that would add the right to an abortion to the Declaration of Rights section in the state constitution, adding that every individual “has the fundamental right to reproductive freedom, including but not limited to the ability to make and effectuate decisions to prevent, continue, or end one’s own pregnancy.” 
  • South Dakota Constitutional Amendment G: Right to Abortion: The proposed amendment would make abortion care legal in the first trimester and allow the state to regulate abortion in the second and third trimesters. Abortion is currently banned at all points of pregnancy in South Dakota, with limited exceptions. The South Dakota secretary of state’s office confirmed that advocacy group Dakotans for Health submitted more than 45,000 valid petition signatures for a 2024 ballot initiative, over 10,000 more signatures than required to qualify for the ballot.

Reproductive Freedom Campaigns Underway that Could Appear on the 2024 Ballot:

  • Arizona [collecting signatures]: Arizona for Abortion Access, a coalition of pro-choice groups including the ACLU of Arizona, Healthcare Rising Arizona, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, and more, is gathering signatures to put a constitutional amendment affirming the right to abortion on the November 2024 ballot. The amendment would allow for abortion care up until the point of fetal viability, somewhere between 24 and 26 weeks. Abortion is currently banned at 15 weeks. In early April, Arizona for Abortion Access coalition members announced that they have gathered more than 506,000 petition signatures — far surpassing the state’s required 383,923 minimum. And they’re not stopping there; the coalition says their ultimate goal is 800,000 signatures by the July 3 deadline.
  • Arkansas [collecting signatures]: Arkansans for Limited Government are in the process of gathering the 90,704 signatures required by July 5, 2024 to get The Arkansas Abortion Amendment on the ballot. If passed by voters, the amendment would prevent the state from restricting access to abortion up to 18 weeks after fertilization or in the instance of rape or incest, fatal fetal anomaly, or when abortion is needed to protect the pregnant woman’s life or physical health.  
  • Colorado [signatures submitted]: Coloradans for Protecting Reproductive Freedom have submitted approximately 240,000 signatures in support of their petition for a ballot measure to enshrine abortion rights into the state constitution — over 100,000 more signatures than the required 124,238 required and possibly a statewide record. The measure would also allow abortion to be a covered service under health insurance plans for Colorado state and local government employees and for enrollees in state and local governmental insurance programs.
  • Missouri [signatures submitted]: Missourians for Constitutional Freedom‘s measure would prevent the government from denying or interfering with a person’s fundamental right to reproductive freedom up until the point of fetal viability. The coalition ultimately submitted over 380,000 signatures — more than twice the required number! And in early April, Missourians for Constitutional Freedom made history when they collected more than 19,000 signatures in a single day.
  • Montana [collecting signatures]: In November 2023, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana filed paperwork for a ballot measure that would affirm in the state constitution the right to make decisions about one’s own pregnancy, including the right to abortion up to the point of viability in the state constitution. After facing challenges from the state attorney general and secretary of state, Montanans for Securing Reproductive Rights has been permitted by the state supreme court to begin collecting petition signatures. They will have until June 21, 2024 to collect 60,359 valid signatures.
  • Nebraska [collecting signatures]: On November 15, abortion rights coalition Protect Our Rights released language for a ballot measure that would constitutionally protect abortion “until fetal viability”—usually around 24 to 26 weeks—or to save the pregnant person’s life or health. Protect Our Rights must collect signatures from about 123,000 voters, and at least 5 percent of registered voters in 38 of the state’s 93 counties. Unfortunately, Nebraska has two anti-abortion counter measures that are also currently collecting petition signatures and one (the ‘Protect Women and Children’ initiative) is using branding similar to Protect Our Rights in order to confuse voters.
  • New York Equal Rights Amendment [pending legal appeal]: This legislature-driven initiative would protect abortion rights as part of an expanded Equal Rights Amendment that may appear on the ballot in November. Specifically on abortion, the measure protects against discrimination for pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes and would protect against government action that could limit reproductive care. State Supreme Court Justice Daniel J. Doyle recently ruled that the proposed amendment must be removed from the November 2024 ballot due to a procedural error, but state Attorney General Letitia James has said her office will appeal the decision and advocates are optimistic that the voters will be allowed to decide on the amendment this fall. 
  • Nevada [gathering signatures]: A coalition of abortion rights advocates called Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom filed paperwork for a proposed ballot initiative that would amend the state constitution to include abortion before “fetal viability” as a fundamental right. The ballot measure, if passed, would be “an added layer of protection” for reproductive rights in the state. While a district court judge struck down the group’s petition, saying it covered more than a single subject, the Nevada Supreme Court ultimately ruled in favor of Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom on appeal.
  • Pennsylvania [filed through the legislature]: A joint resolution proposing an amendment declaring that the Pennsylvania constitution grants no right to a taxpayer-funded abortion or any other right relating to abortion.
  • South Dakota [signatures submitted]: Advocacy group Dakotans for Health is collecting signatures for a 2024 ballot initiative, “Restore Roe v. Wade,” that would make abortion care legal in the first trimester and allow the state to regulate abortion in the second and third trimesters. Abortion is currently banned at all points of pregnancy in South Dakota, with limited exceptions. Dakotans for Health reported that they submitted more than 55,000 signatures.

For more information on our analysis or to schedule an interview with one of our policy experts, please contact our Strategic Communications Director, Caroline Sanchez Avakian at [email protected]