Every election cycle, citizens in 26 states have the opportunity to take the law into their own hands through direct democracy. These states have a process called initiatives and/or referendums.

Initiatives provide citizens the chance to gather signatures to place an issue directly on the ballot for voters to decide on, rather than enacting laws through the elected branches of government. Referendums give citizens a means to approve or disapprove of laws enacted by their legislatures.

You can check your state’s Secretary of State website to find out if your state has any ballot measures that you’ll be voting on this fall.

Here’s a roundup of some of the most important measures in the 2020 election:


National Popular Vote. In 2019, the Colorado legislature passed a bill which to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC). If enough states join, the Compact would essentially abolish the Electoral College, and instead enact a national popular vote. Voters in Colorado will get the chance to vote for or against Colorado joining the Compact in November. 

Late-term Abortion Ban. Organizers recently turned in enough signatures to place a measure on the November ballot which would end legal abortion after 22 weeks in the state. Currently, women can legally abort their babies through any time in their pregnancy. If enough signatures are deemed valid, Colorado citizens will get the chance to vote on this Initiative. 


Minimum Wage. Voters in Florida will be voting on a $15 minimum wage, which would be a substantial increase from the current $8.58. If passed, the measure would gradually increase the minimum wage each year until reaching $15 in 2026.


Right to Food Amendment. In what’s undoubtedly one of the more intriguing ballot measures, voters in Maine may get the chance to vote on a measure ensuring a “constitutional right to food” for citizens in their state. The measure would make clear that citizens “have a fundamental right to be free from hunger.”


Michigan voters have several highly important, potential measures coming to their ballot this fall.

Fetal Heartbeat Abortion Ban. This measure, if it ultimately qualifies for the ballot, will prohibit abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. Organizers have until May 27, 2020 to collect 340,047 valid signatures in order for this measure to be put to a vote this fall.

Dismemberment Abortion Ban. This measure would end dismemberment abortion in the state, which is also called dilation and evacuation abortion (D&E). 

LGBTQ Nondiscrimination Initiative. We’ve seen a recent push in the U.S. House of Representatives to redefine the word “sex” to mean “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in federal nondiscrimination law. This initiative would add those two categories to Michigan’s nondiscrimination law.


Renewable Energy Standards. Current law requires the electric utilities to acquire at least 25% of their electricity from renewable sources. If this measure were to pass, the state would mandate utilities to get at least 50% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

South Dakota:

Marijuana Legalization. Amendment A would legalize recreational marijuana for adults, who would be allowed to possess or distribute up to one ounce of marijuana. 

Sports Gambling. This measure would legalize sports betting within the city limits of Deadwood, South Dakota.

This post will be updated as additional measures are officially placed on the 2020 ballot.


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