A Look At Ballot Initiatives: Voters Reject Ranked Choice Voting, Colorado Creates Family Leave and a New Minimum Wage in Florida

This absentee ballot for the 2020 Maine general election, photographed on Oct. 22, 2020 in Falmouth, Maine, shows how Maine voters are allowed to rank presidential and Senate candidates in order of ranked choice preference.

This absentee ballot for the 2020 Maine general election, photographed on Oct. 22, 2020 in Falmouth, Maine, shows how Maine voters are allowed to rank presidential and Senate candidates in order of ranked choice preference. AP Photo

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | There were 120 statewide ballot initiatives for voters to consider this year.

Ranked choice voting, which got its first try out in a presidential election in Maine this year, was rejected by voters in nearby Massachusetts. “The voters have spoken clearly on Ranked Choice Voting and while there can be some very limited benefits to the voting system, ultimately a majority of voters voted against it because its costs far outweigh its very limited benefits,” said Paul Craney, spokesman for the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance. 

The voting method saw substantial out-of-state financial backing from billionaires Laura and John Arnold, as well as Kathryn Murdoch, the daughter-in-law of Rupert Murdoch. They both also donated to a similar initiative in Alaska, which was also behind in early returns. 

In ranked choice voting, people don’t just pick one candidate they want to win, but rank their options. If no candidate wins a majority of votes, a winner is picked after the candidate with the least votes is eliminated and that person’s votes are distributed to other candidates according to who was designated the next-best option. Proponents argue that this method is a fairer way of holding elections, and gives voters more choices

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Colorado voters approved a measure to create a statewide paid family and medical leave program, an idea that has repeatedly failed to gain traction at the legislature. Under the proposal, workers will be able to take leave and receive up to $1,100 a week for a maximum of 12 weeks if they are having a child, need to take care of a sick relative or are themselves ill. 

Another economic proposal approved by Florida voters with 60.8% of the vote calls for the state to gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026. Supporters eked out just enough votes to win passage, as the constitutional amendment needed 60% to pass.

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In Louisiana, voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment to make clear the state is against abortion if the Supreme Court overturns the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized the medical procedure across the country. Colorado voters defeated a measure to ban abortions after the 22nd week of pregnancy. 

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About 50,000 parolees in California will be allowed to vote in elections, as voters approved Proposition 17 granting the right to vote to people convicted of felonies who have served their prison terms. Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, who authored the proposal, celebrated its passage. “Prop. 17 gives Californians the chance to right a wrong and restore voting rights for a marginalized community and people of color,” McCarty said. “This is good for democracy and good for public safety.”

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Mississippi voters embraced a new flag for the state on Tuesday, approving a design selected by a commission after the state legislature voted to scrap the longtime flag featuring a Confederate battle flag emblem. The decision to move beyond the flag came after years of debate about the racist image. That debate was renewed this summer by the Black Lives Matter protests reignited after the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. 

Laura Maggi is the managing editor at Route Fifty.

NEXT STORY: Republicans Maintain Advantage in Control of State Legislative Chambers

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