Trends Watcher

2024 Trends:

We are preparing for continued success in 2024 with three issue trends leading the way: reproductive freedom, economic justice, and democracy.

Reproductive Rights Ballot Measure Landscape: 2024 Outlook

As of May 31, 2024, there are efforts underway to put constitutional amendments regarding abortion on the 2024 ballot in as many as 12 states: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota.

Abortion rights groups are seeking to qualify ballot initiatives to uphold existing rights (Colorado, Montana, and Nevada) , improve restricted rights (Arizona, Florida, Nebraska), or even restore rights altogether (Arkansas, Missouri, South Dakota).

There is ongoing litigation challenging the abortion bans in most of these states, but without a constitutional amendment establishing a right to abortion, it is not certain that the respective supreme courts in these states will find the bans unconstitutional, or in the case of Florida, that the Court will uphold its prior decisions recognizing a right to abortion. However, if the initiatives establishing a right to abortion succeed in these states, abortion-rights advocates would have the certainty that these bans will be blocked in court.

Four state legislatures have constructed potential initiatives for constitutional amendments pertaining to abortion. The legislature Pennsylvania has introduced a measure that would amend the state constitution to declare that it does not protect the right to abortion. In Maryland, state representatives drafted an initiative protecting the right to reproductive freedom or autonomy (which includes the right to abortion).

  • Colorado Initiative 89: Right to Abortion and Health Insurance Coverage: Coloradans for Protecting Reproductive Freedom 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.
  • 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.
  • Illinois Assisted Reproductive Health Referendum Act Advisory Question: Rather than traditional ballot initiatives, Illinois instead looks to non-binding advisory questions that can serve to inform voters’ support for future policy. During the 2024 legislative session, legislators referred to the November ballot the following question: Should all medically appropriate assisted reproductive treatments, including, but not limited to, in vitro fertilization, be covered by any health insurance plan in Illinois that provides coverage for pregnancy benefits, without limitation on the number of treatments?
  • 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 Right to Abortion: Advocacy group Dakotans for Health submitted more than 55,000 signatures for an initiative that would make abortions legal in the first trimester but 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. While the South Dakota Secretary of State has validated the measure for the ballot, state law allows for a 30-day window for a legal challenge to prevent the measure from appearing in the November 2024 election.
  • 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.  
  • 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 [collecting 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.

Democracy Landscape: 2024 Outlook

Nearly one-third of all the measures BISC is tracking in 2024 pertain to democracy. As of May 31, 2024, BISC continues to track 115 measures in 31 states and Washington D.C. that would impact our democracy. 25 measures have been certified for the 2024 ballot. 

While much of the news coverage on the 2024 presidential election focuses on reproductive rights and the economy, it is abundantly clear that the state of democracy remains top of mind for voters. A review of the 2024 ballot measure landscape evidenced ongoing concerns among voters. Moreover, efforts to restrict ballot access and promote election policies based on mis and dis information are now making their way to the ballot. 

Trends that emerged post-2020 related to political abuses of power are now playing out in state legislatures across the country as self-interested legislators attack and undermine citizen-initiated ballot measures through abuses of legal, executive, and legislative power. 

April 4, 2024 

  1. Wisconsin [PASSED]: Provides that only election officials designated by law may administer elections. 
  2. Wisconsin [PASSED]: Prohibits any level of government in the state from applying or accepting non-governmental funds or equipment for election administration. 

November 5, 2024 

  1. Arizona: Amends the Arizona Constitution to require a  partisan primary election.
  2. Arizona: Provide for the legislature to terminate a state of emergency or alter the emergency powers of the governor during the state of emergency, and provide for any emergency powers granted to the governor to automatically terminate 30 days after the state of emergency is proclaimed, unless the state legislature extends the emergency powers granted to the governor, and except in cases for a state of war emergency or an emergency arising from a flood or a fire. 
  3. Connecticut: Authorizes the state legislature to provide by law for no-excuse absentee voting. 
  4. Florida: Makes school board elections partisan rather than nonpartisan. 
  5. Hawaii: Changes the process for judicial appointments made by the chief justice.
  6. Idaho: Amends the state constitution to provide that only a U.S. citizen can vote.
  7. Illinois: Asks voters if a candidate should be subject to civil penalities if they interfere with an election worker’s official duties.
  8. Indiana: Removes the superintendent of public instruction from the gubernatorial line of succession. 
  9. Iowa: States that only a citizen of the U.S., rather than every citizen of the U.S., can vote, provided that 17-year-olds who will be 18  by the general election may vote in primary elections. 
  10. Iowa: Provides that the lieutenant governor assumes the governor’s office for the remainder of the term—creating a vacancy in the lieutenant governor’s office— if the governor dies, resigns, or is removed from office. 
  11. Kentucky: Prohibits non-U.S. citizens from voting.
  12. Louisiana: Prohibits consideration of a conference committee report or senate amendments on an appropriations bill until 48 hours after distribution to all legislators.
  13. Louisiana: Allows the state legislature to extend regular session by two-day increments in order to pass an appropriations bills.
  14. Maine: Limits the amount of campaign contributions to $5,000 from individuals and entities to PACs that make independent expenditures.
  15. Missouri: Amends the state constitution to prohibit ranked-choice voting and to provide that only U.S. citizens may vote.
  16. New Hampshire: Increase the mandatory judicial retirement age from 70 to 75. 
  17. Nevada: Provide for open top-five primaries and ranked-choice voting for general elections.
  18. North Dakota: Introduces a congressional age limit of 81 years for candidates for U.S. Senate or U.S. House of Representatives.
  19. Oregon: Allow the Oregon State Legislature to impeach and remove elected state executives, including the governor, secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, and commissioner of labor and industries. 
  20. Oregon: Establish the Independent Public Service Compensation Commission to determine certain public officials’ salaries. 
  21. Oregon: Establish ranked-choice voting for federal and state offices. 
  22. Rhode Island: Asks voters if there should be a constitutional convention.
  23. South Dakota: Provides for open primary elections for the offices of governor, state legislative office, the U.S. Senate, and the U.S. House of Representatives. 
  24. Utah: Establishing in the state constitution that every county shall elect a sheriff to serve for four-year terms. 
  25. Wisconsin: States in the state Constitution that only U.S. citizens 18 years or older can vote in federal, state, local, or school elections.

Types of Ballot Measures:

There are several types of key ballot measure issue areas, including:

  • Democracy: Policies that pertain to our governing systems 
    • Voting Rights 
    • Elections 
    • Campaign finance
    • Redistricting
  • Fiscal Policy: Policies that pertain to taxation and government spending
    • Income Taxes 
    • Property Taxes 
    • Corporate and Business Taxes 
    • State budgets 
    • Education budgets 
  • Ballot Initiative Process: Changes to laws governing ballot measures
    • Signature  Gathering 
    • Language development 
    • Protection and implementation of ballot measures that are approved 
  • Civil Rights: Guarantees of equal social opportunities and protection under the law, regardless of race, religion, or other characteristics
    • Racial equality 
    • Gender equality 
    • Marriage equality 
    • Criminal Legal Reform – Laws, procedures, institutions, and policies at play before, during, and after the commission of a crime
    • Sentencing 
    • Abolishing the Prison Industrial Complex 
  • Reproductive Health/Rights: Access to health care for all reproductive needs.  Pertaining to a person’s ability to decide when to become pregnant, to terminate a pregnancy, and the legal protections to act on that decision
    • Reproductive Health: A continuum of physical, mental and social-emotional care pertaining to the reproductive system at all stages of life. 
    • Reproductive Rights: largely focused on abortion and contraception. 
  • Health Justice: Access to equitable and affordable quality health care for all
    • Medicaid expansion 
    • Universal healthcare 
    • Cost transparency 
    • Full body health care 
    • Corporate responsibility and  accountability 
  • Economic Justice: Systemic policies that end the cycle of poverty and prevent wealth inequality
    • Worker Rights
    • Wages
    • Benefits 
    • Paid Sick Leave 
    • Paid Family Leave  
    • Fair lending 
    • Housing 
  • Education: Policies in the educational sphere that govern the operation of education systems
    • School to Prison Pipeline 
    • Curriculum
    • Vouchers
    • Choice policies 
  • Environmental Protection: Policies that impact the protection of the natural environment, conservation of natural resources and the existing natural environment
    • Oil & Gas 
    • Mining 
    • Air quality 
    • Recycling 
    • Land use 
  • Immigration: Policies that influence migration for permanent settlement, temporary labor migration, migration for family reunification and migration of highly skilled workers