How should the state tax its citizens? Should the recreational use of marijuana be legal? Does the state need to do more to protect consumers from payday lenders? These are among the policy questions that will be decided this fall not by legislatures, but by the voters themselves.
In all, ballot measures of some kind are a part of this year’s elections in six Midwestern states.

CSG Midwest recently interviewed legislators and others about these measures, and what’s at stake. Here is an overview of some of the measures to be decided on in Illinois, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

CSG Midwest

Every year, state leaders, policymakers and advocates recognize September as National Suicide Prevention Month. According to data from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, suicide is the second leading cause of death for Americans ages 10-34, the fourth leading cause of death for ages 35-54 and the eighth leading cause of death for ages 55-64. As suicide rates continue to climb, states across the country have taken steps to reduce the number of deaths by suicide and provide access to mental health care prevention and treatment services, particularly for youth.

States are accustomed to working together and helping one another through times of crisis or natural disasters. Between 2016 and 2019 alone, via the congressionally authorized Emergency Management Assistance Compact, more than half of the U.S. states requested assistance from others. Every state but one provided help to another state during this time. In all, more than 29,000 personnel were deployed to states in need of help.
But the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has brought challenges to states that they have not previously faced. That includes how to facilitate interstate cooperation and support.

CSG Midwest
Eight minutes and 46 seconds. That’s how long Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd’s neck while three other officers stood by and watched as Floyd died.
Twenty rounds. That’s how many shots were fired by three Louisville, Ky., police officers into the home of Breonna Taylor as they executed a no-knock search warrant, killing her as she slept.
Twelve years old. That’s how old Tamir Rice was when he was shot and killed by a Cleveland police officer while holding a pellet gun in a public park.
This list can go on and on.
According to The Washington Post, 5,424 people have been shot and killed by police since Jan. 1, 2015. (See sidebar for state-by-state data for the Midwest.) African Americans make up 24 percent of those shot and killed by police; in 353 of these 1,298 incidents, the individual possessed neither a gun nor a knife. (African Americans make up 13.4 percent of the U.S. population.) 

CSG Midwest
In the weeks leading up to Nov. 3, Illinois will be preparing for a general election expected to be like none other in the state’s history. That date will be a state holiday, in part to help secure alternative polling sites as some locations become unavailable due to pandemic-related health concerns. On Election Day, individuals as young as age 16 will be poll workers, and election officials will have the authority to administer curbside voting.
And perhaps most noteworthy of all, the state is likely to have a huge jump in the number of people who vote by mail. Every person who has voted over the past two years will receive a mailing to make them aware of this option, and then will receive an absentee-ballot application.
All of those changes are the result of SB 1863, legislation passed earlier this year to help authorities in Illinois conduct an election in the midst of a public health crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic. “The law is for one year only, and that gave people more comfort in knowing that it was a one-time change,” says Illinois Sen. Julie Morrison, who helped lead legislative efforts on SB 1863.
Across the Midwest, big changes already have occurred in 2020, the result of primaries being held when people were being told to socially distance, avoid crowds and stay home whenever possible.

CSG Midwest