Tuesday November 8th appears likely to be a pivotal Election Day for the nation’s transportation and infrastructure. With control of The White House and Congress on the line, the future direction of the federal transportation program is also at stake. With control of governorships and state legislatures on the line, so too could be initiatives to seek additional state transportation investment. Meanwhile, communities like Atlanta, Detroit, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Seattle will consider ballot measures that could enable major investments in public transit over the next few years. And voters in Illinois and New Jersey will decide whether to place constitutional protections on the use of transportation funds.

On Monday, Sept. 19, Thomas Hicks, chairman of the Election Assistance Commission, or EAC, announced the winners of the “Election Workers Best Practices Competition.” This national competition was created in order to identify and acknowledge quality poll worker management practices from states throughout the country. “The EAC received more submissions than had been expected,” said Hicks. Each submission was reviewed in depth by a seven-...

Voters in Colorado will face a choice on the ballot this November regarding medical aid in dying for the terminally ill. The “Colorado End of Life Options Act,” or Initiative 145, is a proposal that would allow physicians to prescribe life-ending medications to adult Colorado residents who have a terminal illness with a prognosis of six months to live or less.

A record number of ballot initiatives regarding marijuana have been proposed this year. According to Ballotpedia, nine states have initiatives concerning marijuana on the ballot this fall. Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada are considering initatives to legalize recreational marijuana, while Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota are voting on legalizing medical marijuana.

Since April, environmental groups in Colorado have been working to gather signatures for two statewide initiatives that would amend the state constitution to increase regulatory control on energy industries. Coloradans Resisting Extreme Energy Development submitted two measures, Initiatives 75 and 78, that would grant local governments the authority to regulate energy industry development and establish that facilities be at least 2,500 feet from an occupied structure.

Voters decided only 28 state-level ballot propositions in 2015, as direct democracy activity continued to cool in the 21st century. High profile issues included rejection of marijuana legalization in Ohio, selection of the chief justice in Wisconsin, and sales tax changes in Michigan and Washington.

On November 8, 2016, California voters will head to the polls to vote on the legalization of recreational marijuana. According to Fortune, eight states are expected to vote on marijuana initiatives this November.

CSG Midwest

Voters in North Dakota have overturned a legislative decision in 2015 to provide new exemptions to the state’s decades-old ban on corporate farming. Under last year’s law (SB 2351), corporations were allowed to own up to 640 acres for pork and dairy operations. (Corporate ownership of any other type of farming operation, or of farmland, remained illegal.)

2016 appears poised to be another big year for state and local transportation-related ballot initiatives following a big year in 2015. While voters won't consider many of them until November, a handful have already been decided in primary and special elections this Spring. Public transit funding appears to be the major focus of many 2016 ballot measures but funding for roads and other modes is also receiving attention, as are policy changes that seem designed to pave the way for future transportation funding enhancements.

CSG Midwest
Shortly before the close of the 19th century, the citizens of South Dakota approved a constitutional amendment authorizing the use of two new tools of direct democracy, the voter initiative and the popular referendum.
The first-of-its-kind state constitutional provision heralded a new era in voter participation in the lawmaking process, even as it reflected longstanding American traditions of civic engagement dating back to New England’s earliest town hall meetings.