Good News Stories From the Midterm Elections

by Rebecca Álvarez

Across the nation, voters are deciding to fix what has been broken in our democracy.

In Florida, the Voting Rights Amendment restored the right to vote to ex-felons (except those convicted of murder or sex crimes). The pre-existing law stripping suffrage from these people was originally enacted to oppress African Americans during the Jim Crow era. The number of potential voters affected by this is between 840,000 and 1.4 million people. For a comparison, 840,000 is more people than the entire state populations of Vermont, North Dakota, Alaska, or Wyoming!

Voters successfully addressed the pervasive issue of gerrymandering in many states.

  • 71% of Colorado voters supported Amendments Y and Z. These two ballot measures will allow independent commissions to draw electoral districts for legislators and members of Congress after the 2020 census.
  • In Missouri, the “Clean Missouri” proposal will create a system in which a new, nonpartisan state demographer will propose maps that a bipartisan commission will then vote on.
  • Michigan’s popular amendment creates an independent redistricting commission.
  • In Utah, a measure to create a seven-member independent redistricting commission to draft maps for congressional and state legislative districts narrowly passed.

NPR has more details.

After these elections, 18 states now have same-day voter registration; Maryland, Michigan, and Nevada all passed their ballot measures with strong majorities.

Massachusetts passed a ballot measure which creates a 15-member commission charged with advancing a constitutional amendment that would reverse the 2010 Citizens United decision.

New Mexico joins the rest of states across the nation that have established an independent ethics commission. Only Arizona, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Wyoming lack an ethics commission at this point. Our ally in getting money out of politics, Common Cause, was a chief proponent of this commission.

All of these positive results improve our democratic process and send a strong message that across the nation, a vast majority of the public is fed up and not willing to accept business as usual. They provide inspiration to all of us working on the ground to make our system more fair.