Political candidates asking for citizens’ votes or bashing their opponent are not the only political messages voters in many states are seeing right now. Ads for or against constitutional amendments and propositions on the ballot are flooding airwaves and mailboxes in the runup to the Nov. 8 election.
In some states, ballot initiatives put lawmaking directly in the hands of the voters. in several states this year is abortion. In the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, some states are considering initiatives to expand legal abortion, while others are voting on measures to restrict or outlaw it.
One cause that has advanced mainly through ballot initiatives in recent years is marijuana legalization. Efforts to legalize pot for recreational use are on the ballot in five states this year.
In addition to directly changing a specific law, some experts say that ballot initiatives may influence the shape of the electorate and also help one party.
“It is true that parties and/or political candidates may use ballot initiatives strategically to try to drive voter turnout,” John Hudak, senior fellow in governance studies at the nonpartisan public policy organization the Brookings Institution, told Yahoo News. For example, some analysts argued that the large number of anti-gay marriage initiatives in 2004 helped increase turnout among conservative voters, benefiting Republicans. This year, Democrats may hope to benefit from initiatives to protect abortion rights…