Stephen Wolf+ Your Authors @PoliticsWolf @DKElections staff writer covering voting rights, gerrymandering, maps, & poli sci. Get the free Voting Rights Roundup weekly newsletter Jul. 23, 2019 3 min read + Your Authors

NEW: Voters across the U.S. have used ballot initiatives to enact progressive policies, fight gerrymandering, & protect voting rights. In state after state, the GOP has responded by undermining those new laws & making the initiative process itself harder 

In just the last few years, Republicans have attacked voter-initiated laws &/or tried to restrict the initiative process in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, & Utah after voters passed progressive or pro-democracy policies

In Florida, voters passed a 2018 ballot initiative to restore voting rights for up to 1.4 million citizens who've served their felony sentences. The GOP responded by passing a poll tax & making the initiative process itself more difficult 

In Arizona, the GOP passed restrictions on the ballot initiative process after voters raised the minimum wage & blocked expanded school vouchers. The GOP has also long fought to undermine AZ's independent redistricting commission created by an initiative 

Arkansas voters are trying to pass redistricting reform in 2020, so the GOP is running a bogus competing initiative. The GOP also put a constitutional amendment on 2020 ballot that would make progressive initiatives much harder but not conservative ones 

Idaho voters expanded Medicaid in 2018, & the GOP quickly undermined it by imposing draconian work requirements. Legislators also passed bills trying to restrict future initiatives, but the governor vetoed them to avoid a near-certain lawsuit 

Maine voters passed an initiative to expand Medicaid, & GOP Gov. Paul LePage vowed to go to jail before agreeing to implement it. LePage lost a lawsuit over the issue, and Dem Gov. Janet Mills quickly implemented expansion after her 2018 victory 

Maine Republicans (& a few Dem defectors) also repealed a 2016 voter-approved law establishing instant-runoff voting, but voters vetoed that repeal in 2018, leading to its use last year. The GOP still rejects the legitimacy of the electoral reform 

Michigan voters created an independent redistricting commission & passed a voting rights amendment in 2018. In a lame-duck session, the GOP passed restrictions to block future progressive initiatives & undermined the new same-day registration law 

In 2012, the Michigan GOP responded to a voter referendum that vetoed their "Emergency Manager" law, which usurped power from local govts, by re-passing the law with a provision blocking a second referendum. This law directly led to the #FlintWaterCrisis 

Missouri voters passed a 2018 ballot initiative to make legislative redistricting fairer & impose ethics restrictions on legislators. The GOP tried to pass their own amendment gutting redistricting reform & only failed due to an unexpected procedural error 

North Dakota Republicans put a constitutional amendment on the 2020 ballot to make future ballot initiatives harder after voters passed a 2018 constitutional amendment initiative creating a state ethics commission 

In 2016, South Dakota voters passed an initiative creating an independent ethics commission. The GOP responded by literally declaring a "state of emergency" to repeal the law, & they subsequently passed new restrictions on the initiative process itself 

In 2018, Utah voters passed Medicaid expansion, medical marijuana, & bipartisan redistricting reform. In response, GOP legislators rolled back much of the first two laws & will likely tamper with the redistricting reform law ahead of 2021 

Direct democracy—just like representative democracy—has its drawbacks. However, it has been a vital tool in fighting back against Republican voter suppression & gerrymandering. GOP efforts to roll back direct democracy are thus efforts to undermine representative democracy, too

You can follow @PoliticsWolf.


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