The Most Important Ballot Measure Results

From health care and immigration to redistricting and transportation funding, voters decided a long list of policies.
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Voters walking toward a polling station with ballots in hand.
(AP/Ross D. Franklin)
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Last Updated Nov. 7 at 9:49 a.m. ET

On Election Day this year, voters in 38 states cast a vote on 154 ballot measures. We parsed through them all. Below are the results of the most important ones.

For a summary of local ballot measure results, click here.

 

HEALTH CARE

 

Obamacare

Several red states held the first referendum on Obamacare since Congressional Republicans tried and failed to repeal it. Voters in Idaho, Nebraska and Utah opted to expand Medicaid, a central tenet of Obamacare. Meanwhile, in Montana, voters rejected a ballot measure that would have extended the state's expansion and funded it with an increase in cigarette taxes. Read More.

 

Abortion

At a time of uncertainty over the future of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that legalized abortion, voters in Alabama and West Virginia preemptively criminalized abortion. West Virginia's measure also bans Medicaid from covering abortion services. Advocates on both sides of the issue either fear or hope that President Trump's pick for the U.S. Supreme Court will increase abortion regulations and limit women's access to the procedure. But in Oregon, voters defeated a ballot measure that would have ended abortion coverage for public employees and Medicaid patients. Read More.

 

Hospital Care

Massachusetts could have become only the second state in the country to limit the number of patients that hospital nurses can help at one time. But voters overwhelmingly rejected the idea. California has had nurse-to-patient staffing requirements since 2004. Studies show they led to decreased mortality rates after surgery and an additional half-hour of care for patients overall. Read More.

 

Universal At-Home Care

Maine voters have a tendency to make U.S. history on election days. In 2017, for instance, they became the first to pass Medicaid expansion at the ballot box. But this year, they voted down a measure that would have created the nation's first program that provides free at-home services for anyone in need of long-term care, largely the elderly and disabled. It would have been funded through a 3.8 percent tax increase for wealthy residents. Read More.

 

IMMIGRATION

November is the first time voters directly weighed in on immigration policy since Trump's election in 2016. The president has made opposition to immigration central to his agenda. Oregon has the oldest so-called sanctuary state law in the country, which bans the state and local government from helping to enforce federal immigration laws. Until recently, it attracted little controversy. Voters could have repealed the sanctuary law, but opted to keep it. Read More.

 

TRANSGENDER RIGHTS

Massachusetts held the nation's first statewide vote on anti-discrimination protections for transgender people. When it comes to LGBTQ rights, the state is hailed as a leader -- it was the first to legalize same-sex marriage. On Tuesday, it upheld its reputation and voted against repealing a 2016 law, signed by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, that protects transgender people from discrimination in public spaces, including bathrooms. Read More.

 

MARIJUANA

Is the Midwest ready for recreational marijuana? Not in North Dakota. But voters in Michigan became the first in the region to legalize it. The ballot measure will set up a licensing and taxation system. Read More.

 

GUNS

In the aftermath of high-profile mass shootings in Parkland, Fla., and Pittsburgh, Washington state voters passed Initiative 1639, which will be the state’s most comprehensive gun control law. It includes secure gun storage requirements, enhanced background checks and waiting periods for firearms. It also raises the minimum age required to purchase a semiautomatic assault rifle from 18 to 21. Read More.

 

SLAVERY

Did you know that slavery is still a legal form of punishment under the U.S. Constitution and several states' constitutions? Voters in one of those states, Colorado, got a second chance to change that. In 2016, they voted against abolishing this clause. This year, the issue was back on the ballot. The measure, which passed, won't immediately have a legal impact, but it could empower some prisoners to take legal action against their working conditions and pay. Read More.

 

POLITICS

 

Redistricting

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to take a stand on partisan gerrymandering this year, again. Meanwhile, voters in three states -- Colorado, Missouri and Michigan -- limited the partisanship in redistricting. The results of Utah's ballot measure are not yet in. Each of the ballot measures varies but will reduce politicians' role in the once-a-decade process of drawing voting districts. "From 2010 to 2017, there were five measures on statewide ballots that address similar things. Now, there are five in a single year." Read More.

 

Voting Rights

States have spent much of the past decade enacting restrictive voting and voter registration laws. But on Tuesday, voters in Florida, Maryland, Michigan and likely Nevada made it easier for people to vote and register. The marquee vote was on Florida's Amendment 4, which will automatically restore felons' voting rights in a state with a quarter of the nation's disenfranchised felons. Meanwhile, voters in Arkansas and North Carolina opted to add voter ID requirements into their constitutions. Read More.

 

Felons' Rights

Florida isn't the only state that voted on what political rights people with criminal records have. Louisiana's ballot included a measure, which passed, to ban felons from running for any state or local public office for five years after their release from jail or prison. The state was one of three -- the others being Maine and Vermont -- that allows felons to seek elected positions immediately after serving time. Read More.

 

Campaign Finance and Ethics

Measures that featured one or both of these issues were on ballots in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Dakota, New Mexico and South Dakota. All but one of them passed. Read More.

 

Privacy Rights

Privacy concerns have prompted 10 states to add privacy protections to their constitutions. After Tuesday, make it 11. New Hampshire voters adopted language that gives them the "right to live free from governmental intrusion." Supporters say it will ensure that governments get permission before snooping through citizens’ online life, while critics worry it will lead to frivolous lawsuits against the state. Read More.

 

Suing States

States across the country have limited citizens' right to sue their state or local government. Voters in one of them, New Hampshire, revived it on Tuesday. There was no organized opposition to the measure, but critics worry it will create "potential for the judicial branch -- at least in the short and medium term -- to get clogged up with frivolous lawsuits." Read More.

 

Governor's Power

North Carolina's GOP-controlled legislature has spent the last couple years attempting to strip power from the other branches of government, namely Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. But this time, they asked for voters' approval and failed to get it. Two ballot measures would have given lawmakers more, and the governor less, authority over appointments to courts and the ethics and elections board. Every living former governor of the state -- two Republicans and three Democrats -- opposed the measures. Read More.

 

Judicial Power

The state where lawmakers put every justice on trial this year is also the only state where the legislature has no control over the judicial budget. On Tuesday, West Virginia voters changed that. Read More.

 

Superintendent Elections

Few states elect their school superintendents, and South Carolina voters refuse to give up that right. Backers of a failed amendment that would have transferred that power to the governor said it would ensure a qualified person oversees education. Currently, South Carolina requires superintendents to have neither experience in education policy nor a college degree. Critics viewed the measure as a power grab by Republicans. Read More.

 

ENVIRONMENT

 

Offshore Drilling

The Trump administration expects to release a new draft of its plan to expand offshore oil and gas drilling in federal waters "by year's end." All of the governors on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, other than Maine and Georgia, oppose the idea. Meanwhile, Florida voters sent a message to Trump on Tuesday, expressing their opposition to offshore drilling. They enshrined the state's existing ban on offshore drilling in the state's Constitution -- and also banned workplace vaping. Read More.

 

Carbon Tax

Environmentalists in Washington state thought this would be the year. This time around, the carbon tax measure -- which would have been the nation's first -- had more support from environmentalists and companies. But the oil industry spent big to defeat it, and their spending paid off. Read More.

 

MEAT SALES

California voters passed what advocates say are the world's strongest protections for animals raised for meat and eggs. The measure bans the sale of meat and eggs from animals confined to areas that don't meet minimum space requirements. But several animal rights groups, including PETA, wanted voters to reject it. Read More.

 

DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME

California, the world's sixth-largest economy, could become the next state to ditch the clock-changing practice. Voters opted for year-round daylight saving time. But the measure still faces several major hurdles. For one, it needs congressional approval. Read More.

 

TAXES & REVENUE

 

Education Funding

In a year with a wave of teacher strikes, voters in two states rejected ballot measures that would have increased education funding. In Colorado, where inflation-adjusted teacher salaries have decreased, a ballot measure would have raised income taxes to increase funding for schools. In Oklahoma, one of the least-funded public school systems in the country, the ballot measure would have given schools more flexibility to spend local property tax revenue how they want. Read More.

 

Taxable Products

Several states -- Montana, Nevada, Oregon, South Dakota and Washington -- had ballot measures regarding what products are taxable -- and by how much. Voters nixed tampon taxes and refused to raise cigarette taxes. But on the issue of grocery taxes, voters were divided. Read More.

 

Service Tax Ban

Governments have struggled to raise revenue since the recession, leading some to start taxing services like Netflix and yoga. Meanwhile, a movement against service taxes has started. On Tuesday, voters made Arizona the second state to ban any expansion of the tax on services. The measure was supported by many industries but opposed by policy experts and politicians on both sides of the aisle, including Republican Gov. Doug Ducey. Read More.

 

Oil Revenue

Oklahoma is one of the only oil-dependent states that doesn't save some of its oil revenue for later. A ballot measure to start doing that received bipartisan support in the legislature and was expected to benefit government services in the long-term. But concerns over the short-term effect on education funding killed the effort. Read More.

 

Supermajorities

Voters handed Republican lawmakers in Florida a victory by approving a supermajority requirement that theoretically would make it harder to raise taxes. But based on the experience of the 14 states that currently require supermajority requirements, it's debatable whether they actually do keep taxes down. Read More.

 

Tax Breaks

Speaking of supermajorities, Oregon is one of the 14 states that requires one to raise taxes. But businesses pushed voters to make sure it applies to eliminating tax breaks, too. The measure, if it had passed, would have made it harder for the state to raise revenue by protecting 367 exemptions, loopholes and tax breaks that collectively cost the state more than $12 billion a year. Read More.

 

Property Taxes

At a time when the median U.S. home price has risen by 40 percent in five years, voters in California and Louisiana faced ballot measures to reduce their property taxes. California's, which failed, would have helped seniors, the disabled or people who are homeless as the result of a natural disaster. The proposal was controversial because it would have expanded the state’s existing constitutional limit on property taxes. Louisiana's measure, which passed, will phase in homeowners’ new property taxes over four years. Read More.

 

Income Tax Cap

Only two states -- Georgia and North Carolina -- cap how high income tax rates can go. North Carolina voters lowered its limit even more on Tuesday. The NAACP, which made an attempt to block the measure, argued that the lower cap "over time, will act as a tax cut only for the wealthy." Others worry it will hamstring future policymakers' ability to raise revenue. Read More.

 

TRANSPORTATION

 

Gas Taxes

It's unusual to see statewide -- as opposed to local -- ballot measures on transportation funding, but this year, there were severa. And they all failed. In California, voters could have rolled back a gas tax hike that's only a year old. Missouri voters refused to raise their fuel tax for the first time in 22 years. Utah opted not to become the second state to use gas tax money to fund schools. Meanwhile, Colorado voters faced a confusing trio of conflicting ballot measures on transportation funding. Read More.

 

Lockboxes

Voters in red and blue states like them. But historically, transportation "lockboxes" do little to address transportation problems. Nevertheless, Connecticut residents voted to make sure the tax money they thought was supposed to build and fix roads and other transportation projects is actually used for that purpose. But while lockboxes protect existing transportation funding, they do little to raise more money to address long-term infrastructure needs. Read More.

 

HOUSING

Is rent control the right way to ease California's housing crisis? On average, Californians are spending more than 36 percent of their monthly earnings on housing, and half of them are renters, compared to the national average of 37 percent. Proposition 10 would have repealed a law that limits cities' power to enact rent control and allows landlords of rent-controlled properties to raise the rent when tenants move out. But voters rejected it. Research suggests that rent control benefits some but at the expense of others. Read More.

 

PAYDAY LOANS

In a year when the federal government is dialing back financial regulations, Colorado voted to become the 16th state to limit the notoriously high interest rates on payday loans. The vote itself exemplifies how strong consumer protections are increasingly being left to the states. Meanwhile, Congress is considering two proposals that could exempt some types of payday lenders from the regulations that Colorado -- and other states -- just passed. Read More.

 

CRIME VICTIMS' RIGHTS

Voters in six states -- Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Nevada, North Carolina and Oklahoma -- voted on a so-called Marsy's Law, which typically tighten parole requirements and guarantee victims or their families the right to know a defendant's whereabouts at all points during the legal process. Some members of the law enforcement and legal communities oppose Marsy's Law, arguing that it unnecessarily puts a strain on legal and court systems. Still, these measures almost always pass at the ballot box, and appear to have this year in every state where results are in so far. Read More.

 

HUNTING

North Carolina voters codified the right to hunt and fish in the state’s constitution, something more than 20 states have done, mostly through the ballot box. Supporters of the NRA-backed measure argued it will protect the pasttime from future regulations, while opponents argue it is unnecessary and fails to restrict what they see as inhumane methods of hunting. Read More.

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