Midterm Ballot Initiatives Strengthening the Freedom to Vote Win Big

A man and a woman wearing surgical masks place a ballot into a drop box inside a building
Two Michigan veterans drop their absentee ballots into the official ballot drop box located next to the City Clerk's window on the last day of early voting for the primary election on August 1, 2022 in Royal Oak, Michigan. Photo by Sue Dorfman/ZUMA Press Wire

One could sum up the 2022 election cycle in two words: democracy won. In the absence of federal voting rights reform, states have needed to step up and become the new vanguard for protecting the freedom to vote. Across the country, Americans voted to strengthen our democracy through ballot initiatives.

In Michigan, voters passed Proposal 2 by a whopping 20 percent margin. This constitutional amendment establishes 9 days of early voting, gives registered voters without a state ID an alternative means to verify their identity and improves access to ballot drop boxes.

Many other states also passed pro-voter ballot initiatives that strengthen and expand the freedom to vote.

For example, prior to this election, Connecticut was one of only a handful of states where voters did not have access to early voting. Over 60% of Connecticut voters passed a measure amending their state constitution to allow for early voting, which brings a host of benefits including the flexibility to cast a ballot at a convenient time and reduced wait times on Election Day.

A few communities passed ballot initiatives that implemented ranked choice voting (RCV). RCV makes our democracy more equitable and gives voters more choice at the ballot box.

Maine was the first state to adopt RCV for state-wide elections, and this mechanism for voting proved so popular that Portland, Maine, has now voted to use it for city-wide elections as well. Another city – Evanston, Illinois – also passed a measure implementing RCV in city elections, which passed with over 82% of the vote.

The 2022 midterm elections could have been as fraught as the 2020 presidential election. Thankfully, the results have shown us there is a robust constituency in this country dedicated to protecting and expanding the freedom to vote. 

The pro-democracy movement is alive and well, but we need to maintain this momentum. As we head into the 2024 presidential election, which may be one of the most contentious elections ever, we must remain vigilant of efforts to weaken our democracy and sow doubt in the results of free and fair elections – and fight them at the ballot box.

Mannal is a Senior Communications Manager for Voting Rights and Redistricting issues at CLC.