Early voting proposals leading as states settle ballot items

Ballot proposals to expand early voting were leading Tuesday in Connecticut and Michigan as voters in several states decided measures that could affect the way votes are cast in the next presidential election.

The voting-related measures were among more than 130 state proposals appearing on ballots, addressing contentious issues such as abortion, taxes, drug policy and labor laws.

While the measures in Connecticut and Michigan sought to expand access to voting, proposals in Arizona and Nebraska sought to tighten voter identification requirements. Other ballot measures would affect direct-democracy opportunities by raising the bar to pass future ballot initiatives.

In Arkansas, a majority of votes were coming in against a proposed constitutional amendment that would require a 60% threshold — instead of a simply majority — to pass future ballot initiatives.

Connecticut was one of just four states lacking an in-person early voting option for all voters. An advance voting proposal failed on the state’s 2014 ballot, but this year’s version was faring better. The proposed constitutional amendment would authorize the Democratic-led General Assembly to create an early voting law.

Michigan voters were favoring a wide-ranging initiative backed by voting rights advocates. It would expand early voting options, require state-funded return postage and drop boxes for absentee ballots and specify that the Board of State Canvassers has only a “clerical, nondiscretionary” duty to certify election results. The proposal also could preempt Republican attempts to tighten photo identification laws by amending the state constitution to include the current alternative of signing an affidavit.

Voters in Nebraska and Arizona were deciding proposals that would tighten voter identification requirements. Nebraska’s measure, which would require a photo ID to cast a ballot, was leading in Tuesday’s results.

Votes were coming in later in Arizona. That measure would fortify an existing photo ID law for in-person voting by eliminating an alternative of providing two documents bearing a person’s name and address. People voting by mail — the vast majority in Arizona — would have to list their date of birth and either their driver’s license number, a state identification number or the last four digits of their Social Security number.

Alabama voters were backing a proposed constitutional amendment requiring future election law changes to take effect at least six months before a general election.

A proposed amendment to Nevada’s Constitution would adopt an open primary election to advance the top five vote-getters. Ranked choice voting then would be used to determine the winner of the general election. If no candidate received a majority on the first count, the votes for the bottom candidate would be reassigned to voters’ next preferences until one candidate has a majority. Similar systems already exist for some elections in Maine and in Alaska. But the Nevada measure, if approved this year, would require a second approval in 2024 to take effect.

In other ballot issues, voters in Illinois and Tennessee were moving in opposite directions on labor policies. While Illinois residents were favoring a proposed constitutional right to collective bargaining, Tennessee voters were supporting a constitutional amendment forbidding workplace contracts from requiring union fees.

Gun policies also drew contrasting approaches in states. While Iowa voters were deciding whether to embed the right to bear arms in the state constitution, Oregon voters were considering whether to restrict gun rights by prohibiting magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds and requiring safety training and a permit to purchase firearms.

Voters in five states — Alabama, Louisiana, Oregon, Tennessee and Vermont — were considering constitutional amendments against slavery and involuntary servitude, intending to end the potential of that being used as a criminal punishment.

California, as is often the case, was home to the nation’s most expensive ballot battle. Hundreds of millions of dollars were poured into the campaigns of two competing initiatives to legalize sports betting — one backed by wealthy Native American tribes and the other by online gambling companies and less-affluent tribes.

Health care also was on the ballot in some states. An Oregon measure would create a constitutional right to affordable health care and obligate the state to ensure access. A measure in South Dakota would expand Medicaid coverage to adults under the terms of the federal health care law enacted more than a decade ago under former President Barack Obama.

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Follow the AP’s coverage of the 2022 midterm elections at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections. And learn more about the issues and factors at play in the midterms at https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections.

Source ABC

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