2017 Ballot Measures Results: Part II


While you’ve likely heard about the election results in Virginia and New Jersey last week, voters also weighed in on referendums across the country.


Back in July, we previewed four prominent ballot initiatives from Ohio, Maine, Texas, and Louisiana. Today, we take a look at the results and see  how their respective state government agencies will enforce the decisions made by popular vote.


Maine Casino or Slot Machines in York County Initiative


Summary of the Issue: This initiative would allow for the construction of slot machines or a casino in York County, Maine. The measure repeals Maine policy that any casino or slot machine facility not be operated within a 100-mile radius of another licensed facility. It also raises the number of slot machines permitted in Maine from 3,000 to 4,500.


Vote Results: 83% of Maine voters opposed the initiative.


What Happens Next: While offshore developer Shawn Scott spent millions of dollars to try to convince Maine voters to allow him to establish a new casino in York County, controversies and scandals around the campaign dissuaded voters from voting in his favor. His bid for a rerendum-approved casino failed, and York County will not get a new casino sponsored and developed by Scott.


Texas Definition of Professional Sports Team in Charitable Raffles Amendment, HJR 100 (2017)


Summary of the Issue: In 2015, the Texas legislature unanimously passed the Professional Sports Team Charitable Foundation Raffle Enabling Act, permitting certain professional sports teams’ charitable foundations to hold charity raffles at home games. Professional sports teams, as defined by the Act, only include major league sports. This proposed amendment is meant to expand the definition of sports team to include minor league teams, motorsports racing, and Professional Golf Association events. It would also allow the use of debit card as an acceptable form of payment for raffle tickets.


Vote Results: 61% of Texas voters permitted more pro sports teams to hold charity raffles.


What Happens Next: This approved proposition will allow minor league baseball, hockey, soccer and basketball teams (in addition to major league teams who already can) to hold charitable raffles during their home games. According to the Texas Statesman, the proposition would expand an amendment, approved by voters in 2015, that allowed professional sports teams to conduct charitable raffles. The definition of “professional sports team” has been effectively changed by this result to include minor league teams, motorsports racing and Professional Golf Association events.


Louisiana Dedicate New Taxes on Fuel to Transportation Construction Fund Amendment


Summary of the Issue: Louisiana, in an effort to address current issues of an underdeveloped and decaying urban infrastructure, proposed to implement new taxes on gasoline, diesel, and special fuels in order to generate revenue for the Transportation Trust Fund. This revenue would then be used to help with costs associated with construction and maintenance of roads, bridges, ports, airports, and public transit.


Vote Results: 53% of Louisiana voters approved this amendment.


What Happens Next: Although voters have consented to this amendment to enact new taxes on gasoline and fuel taxes, the Louisiana Legislature has refused to implement a new gas or fuel tax in recent years. This approved amendment is intended to ensure that any new gas and fuel tax revenue can only go towards transportation construction projects rather than wages and benefits for state employees. As previously stated, the Louisiana Legislature is still unlikely to act upon this ballot measure in accordance with their refusal to enact any new gas or fuel taxes


Ohio Crime Victim Rights Initiative (2017)


Summary of the Issue: Though there are laws for crime victims’ rights in Ohio, many believe that these laws do not adequately ensure the victim’s safety, dignity and privacy. Therefore, a new amendment is being proposed: Marsy’s Law. Marsy’s Law is moving through many state throughout the country, with the aim to expand the constitutional rights of crime victims by altering rights to information, privacy, and fair treatment.


Vote Results: 82% of Ohio voters approved this amendment.


What Happens Next: While most of the proposed changes were already enacted in law in Ohio, this ballot measure has enshrined them in the state constitution. Advocates have claimed that the elevated legal status was necessary because the law has been inconsistently applied by prosecutors and judge across Ohio.

BallotReady is the only nonpartisan online voter guide that provides personalized, easy-to-use, and accessible information about your ballot. From the top of the ticket to the very bottom, BallotReady helps voters compare candidates based on stances on issues, biography, and endorsements. We make it easy to vote informed on every race and referendum.

By Mikala Cohen, BallotReady Intern

2017 Ballot Measures Results: Part I


While you’ve likely heard about the election results in Virginia and New Jersey last week, voters also weighed in on referendums across the country.


Back in July, we previewed four prominent ballot initiatives from New York, Ohio, Maine, Texas, Louisiana and New Jersey. Today, we take a look at the results and see  how their respective state government agencies will enforce the decisions made by popular vote.


Maine Medicaid Expansion Initiative


Summary of the Issue: Under the Affordable Care Act, Congress expanded Medicaid to cover all individuals earning incomes of up to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level. But in 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed states to choose whether they wanted to participate in the Medicaid expansion, and in Maine Gov. Paul LePage has vetoed statewide Medicaid expansion 5 times. As a result, the expansion is headed directly to the ballot via a petitioned indirect initiative signed by at least 61,123 Mainers. If passed, the bill would move pass the governor and legislature to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, which would be tasked with creating a Medicaid expansion plan.


Vote Results: Medicaid Expansion approved by 59% of Maine voters.


What Happens Next: Maine legislators had previously voted to expand Medicaid  five times, with Republican Governor Paul LePage vetoing every  bill. Even though the outcome of the ballot initiative is not subject to a veto, Gov. LePage has stated that his administration will not implement the change unless the legislature identifies funding sources for the state portion of the program’s costs. Groups in Idaho and Utah are hoping to follow the lead of Maine and include their own Medicaid expansion on the ballot  in 2018.


New Jersey Revenue from Environmental Damage Lawsuits Dedicated to Environmental Projects Amendment


Summary of the Issue: Previously, any revenue obtained from large pollution lawsuits in New Jersey has not been spent on preservation or conservation efforts in the affected areas. Instead, most of these funds went to balancing the state budget. This bill would require all money earned by the state related to natural resource damages be used to restore the affected area.


Vote Results: 69% of New Jersey voters voted to spend revenue obtained from pollution on lawsuits on conservation.


What Happens Next: This affirmative result formally amends the state constituion to prevent future governors and the state legislature from repurposing money earmarked for restoring land and waterways tainted by pollution. According to the ballot question, any funds paid by a polluter “would have to be used to repair, restore, replace, or preserve the State’s natural resources. The money may also be used to pay legal or other costs incurred by the state in pursuing its claims.”


New York Pension Forfeiture for Convicted Officials Amendment (2017)


Summary of the Issue: After several elected officials in New York were criminally convicted and still allowed to receive large pensions in jail, the state attempted to enact the Public Integrity Reform Act in 2011 to allow judges to reduce or revoke the pensions of convicted officials. Yet, because pensions are a contractual relationship in the New York state constitution, this change could only apply to future officers entering the system after 2011. The legislatively referred constitutional amendment would allow judges to reduce or revoke pensions of public officers convicted of a felony related to their official duties for any public officer in the system who commits the crime after January 1, 2018.


Vote Results: 64% of New York voters approved the constitutional amendment.


What Happens Next: Courts will now be able to “reduce or revoke” the pension of elected officials who are convicted of felonies related to their public duties. This ballot measure was included as a reaction to a series of scandals involving a number of state legislators, including Norman Seabrook, Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos, who were still able to receive their pensions retroactively after serving time in prison for their crimes.


Ohio Drug Price Standards Initiative (2017)


Summary of the Issue: This initiative would alter the price of drugs purchased through the state to align prices with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. This could reportedly reduce Ohioans’ drug prices by up to 24 percent.


Vote Results: 79% of Ohio voters opposed the price alteration.


What Happens Next: The overwhelming majority of Ohio voters voted against this ballot initiative so the state will still be able to buy prescription drugs at prices higher than what the Department of Veterans Affairs pays. While supporters claimed that using the VA as the standard for how the government should spend money would save Ohio residents millions of dollars each year in healthcare costs, voters disagreed.

BallotReady is the only nonpartisan online voter guide that provides personalized, easy-to-use, and accessible information about your ballot. From the top of the ticket to the very bottom, BallotReady helps voters compare candidates based on stances on issues, biography, and endorsements. We make it easy to vote informed on every race and referendum. See every race and referendum on your Ballot here!

By Mikala Cohen, BallotReady Blog Intern

Incumbency Advantage? Meet the Incumbents and their Challengers in Major East Coast Mayoral Races this Year – Part I Rochester


Though 2017 is a slow year for nationwide elections, the first Tuesday in November will feature mayoral races throughout the country. Over the next week, we will dive into three such races taking place on the East Coast this fall.

Common themes include police-community relations, education, and affordable housing. Each race has an incumbent seeking reelection. Today we will look at Rochester, a race including a candidate responding to legal issues, a game store owner, and a journalist. In anticipation of the September primaries here is our preview: (more…)

How to Vote: Detroit Municipal Elections

Detroit City Hall, Photo Credit: OldCityPics
Yesterday, we previewed the Detroit Mayoral election. Eight candidates are running to secure one of two spots in the November 8th general election, and the nonpartisan primary election is coming up this Tuesday.The top two vote-getters will advance to the general election. Detroit will also hold primaries for City Clerk and City Council.


Back From Bankruptcy and Better than Ever? The Detroit Mayoral Race

Picture Credit: Positively Detroit

It’s time to elect a new Mayor and City Council in Detroit, one of the largest cities hosting key municipal elections during the 2017 off-year. The Motor City elected their previous city council and mayor shortly after Kevyn Orr was appointed emergency manager during the city’s bankruptcy proceedings in 2013. That will all change next week, when Detroit will hold its first municipal elections (primaries, then general, of course) since Orr’s tenure ended following the city’s bankruptcy filing.

The election is widely seen as a referendum on Detroit’s progress since their debt restructuring. Incumbent Mayor Mike Duggan holds a significant advantage in the race. A poll out this week, surveying likely voters, has him beating out the next closest candidate, Coleman Young II, by 34 points (64 to 30%), with most of those surveyed also agreeing that Detroit has benefited “somewhat” (52%) or “a lot” (14%) in the previous four years. (more…)

The Puerto Rican Approach to Democracy: Partying



Photo credit: Chicago Tribune

Where do voters in the U.S. turnout the most? Maybe Iowa or New Hampshire, states that hold the nation’s first caucus and primary every election season? Or perhaps Washington D.C., the nation’s capital?

The answer, surprisingly, is Puerto Rico – a US territory that only sends a nonvoting member to Congress and has no electoral college representation. Turnout on the island consistently exceeds 80 percent. Only four other countries in the Western hemisphere maintain higher turnout rates, and all have mandatory voting laws. (more…)

Ballot Measures 2017: Part I



Image: Bolder Advocacy

This year, 19 statewide ballot measures will appear on the ballot in 7 states. As Congress debates a new health care bill, which we’ve all heard about in the news, new laws have passed every week that we haven’t heard about, and on important issues including environmental protections and ethics legislation. These very same debates will be put in front of voters this fall. Here’s a look at four statewide ballot measures up for election this fall: (more…)

Redistricting Explainer: Everything you need to know about gerrymandering and the case before the Supreme Court

Congressional Districts, Clockwise from top left: NC 12, FL 5, PA 7, TX 33, NC 1, MD 3. Image: NBC News  

For the first time in over a decade, the Supreme Court will consider whether partisan gerrymandering is constitutional. The court will hear an appeal of a District Court case that struck down Wisconsin’s State Assembly map as illegally gerrymandered last year.

Judge Kenneth Ripple, writing for the majority, noted that the map deliberately made it “more difficult for Democrats, compared to Republicans, to translate their votes into seats.” The Supreme Court’s choice to uphold or overrule the District Court’s decision could have a wide-ranging impact on redistricting across the country.

What is gerrymandering and how is it done? (more…)

Race Update: New Jersey Governor



The race to succeed Chris Christie as New Jersey governor has been overshadowed by recent elections in Georgia and Virginia but New Jersey voters did go the polls in June to select their party nominees. The result:  Democratic nominee  Phil Murphy will face off against Republican Kim Guadagno in the fall. The primary contest was labeled the most expensive race in New Jersey history, with total spending topping $42 million. (more…)