This election, voters in nine states and one province saw a total of 17 democracy reform initiatives on their ballots. The initiatives gave voters a chance to weigh in on issues ranging from voter registration to vote-counting systems, from the role of big money in funding political campaigns to the adoption of game-changing campaign finance reform programs that would make campaigns about voter outreach again.

Four of these proposed reforms are right here in Cascadia—two statewide initiatives in Washington and two county-level measures in Oregon—and we’ve been tracking them closely all year. In addition, four other statewide initiatives in Alaska, California, Maine, and South Dakota caught our eyes as particularly promising changes that could serve as models for change in Cascadia and across the US. Represent.US is tracking eight additional democracy measures. And in Canada, Prince Edward Island voted in an advisory plebiscite on November 7 to recommend switching from winner-take-all, first-past-the-post elections to a form of proportional representation called mixed-member proportional.

Here’s how the eight measures did at the polls. (Note: One race remains undecided in Washington State, which votes by mail and allows ballots to be postmarked on election day and arrive thereafter. We’ll keep updating this wrap-up as results come in.)

Alaska

Automatic Voter Registration—WON, with nearly two-thirds of the vote.

Proposition 1 permits qualified Alaskans to register to vote when they apply for the state’s permanent fund dividend (PFD). Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) programs allow would-be voters to register at the same time they show identification for another public program. By combining two redundant processes, potential voters have one less hurdle to jump over in order to exercise their voice in democracy. Oregon was the first state to implement AVR, followed by California, Vermont, and West Virginia, and the Beaver State has already seen a major boost in voter turnout thanks, in part, to the program.

Yes No
64% 36%

Last updated 11/9/2016, 8:10 AM.

California

Overturn Citizens United—WON.

California voters passed Proposition 59 which aims to add the Golden State to the list of 17 states that have passed measures encouraging the US Congress to overturn the controversial 2010 Supreme Court decision by kicking off the process of amending the US Constitution. That 2010 decision applied First Amendment protections to corporations and other organizations, effectively allowing special interest groups to use unlimited financial resources to influence elections. Though passing this proposition won’t change anything for campaign finance in the near term, this is a step on the long road to putting elections back in the hands of everyday people.

Yes No
52% 48%

california-proposition-59

Last updated 11/14/2016, 9:10 AM.

Maine

Ranked Choice Voting—WON.

Voters in Maine passed Ballot Question 5, which gives voters a chance to adopt a different voting system called Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) for the election of state and federal legislative offices, as well as for state governor. Currently, 13 other jurisdictions across the United States use ranked choice voting to elect public officers. Unlike the first-past-the-post system that most American and Canadian jurisdictions use, ranked choice voting avoids the “spoiler effect,” allowing voters to vote for their favorite candidates without worrying they might unintentionally help their least favorite candidate win. Ranked choice voting also makes campaigns more civil and positive and elects the person with the broadest support.

Yes No
52% 48%

maine-ballot-question-no-5

Last updated 11/9/2016, 8:10 AM.

Oregon

Campaign Finance Reform—WON with a whopping 89 percent of the vote!.

Multnomah County voters overwhelmingly passed Honest Elections Multnomah County, Measure 26-184, which limits campaign contributions to candidates for Multnomah County offices and improves donor transparency. Advocates hope that donation limits will reduce the power of big donors and increase diversity among candidates running for county office.

Yes No
89% 11%

oregon-multnomah-county-measure-26-184

Last updated 11/9/2016, 8:08 AM.

Ranked Choice Voting—WON.

In Benton County Measure 2-100 slid to a comfortable victory. The Measure amends the Benton County Charter so that voters select county commissioners and the sheriff via ranked choice voting (RCV), instead of via the currently common and problematic first-past-the-post method. RCV eliminates the spoiler effect, makes campaigns more positive, and elects candidates who earn true majority support.

Yes No
54% 45%

oregon-benton-county-measure-2-100

  • Last updated 11/9/2016, 8:10 AM.

    South Dakota

    Campaign Finance Reform—WON.

    South Dakota’s voters passed Initiated Measure 22, which contains a package of campaign finance reform measures aimed at reducing the influence of big money in county, legislative, and statewide races. The Measure’s bipartisan support models the unifying agenda of campaign finance reform. Importantly, South Dakota is the only state where lobbyists can pass secret, unlimited gifts to politicians, and the Measure puts an end to this practice. In addition, it includes a voucher-based public funding program that would empower registered voters to financially support the campaigns of the statewide and legislative office candidates of their choosing.  

    Yes No
    52% 48%

    south-dakota-initiated-measure-22

    Last updated 11/8/2016,9:16 PM.

    Washington

    Campaign Finance Reform—LOST.

    Initiative 1464 did not pass as only 47 percent of voters approved it. The Washington Government Accountability Act contained a suite of campaign finance reform measures for state legislative races including limiting campaign contributions from state contractors and lobbyists and a game-changing, voucher-based public finance program. The program would have made it possible for candidates to spend more time talking with, and fundraising from, their own constituents, rather than wealthy special interests.

    Losing with 47 percent of the vote with 62 percent of precincts reporting:
    Yes No
    47% 53%

    washington-initiative-1464

    Last updated 11/14/2016, 9:10 AM.

    Overturn Citizens United—WON with nearly two-thirds of the vote.

    Voters overwhelmingly passed Initiative 735. The Initiative makes Washington the 18th state (or 19th, if Californians approve Proposition 59) to ask Congress to overturn, by beginning the process of amending the US Constitution, the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision. Though passing I-735 won’t itself repeal this decision, it’s a symbolic step the Evergreen State can take on a long journey to reversing this decision.

    Yes No
    63% 37%

    washington-initative-735

    Last updated 11/14/2016, 9:10 AM.