Washington, DC– Kelly Hall, the Executive Director of the Fairness Project spoke with The Great Battlefield podcast about ballot measure campaigns in red and purple states and how they can be used to advance broadly-supported policies and improve the lives of working people.
“The ballot measure arena is one of the few places where I think the left has out-organized the right, at least in the past 10 years. It’s partially due to necessity. If you look at the 24 states that have the ability to bring citizen initiated ballot measures, they are largely states that are controlled–both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s seat–by the right,” said Kelly Hall.
The Fairness Project has won 20 of the 21 ballot measure campaigns it’s been involved in since 2016. In the 2022 cycle, they are working on Medicaid expansion in South Dakota, minimum wage increases in Idaho and Nebraska, paid family leave in Maine, a decrease in the predatory practices of payday lenders in a number of states, and a large portfolio of democracy defense work.
“The bigger area of defense that we are wading into is against attacks on the ballot measure process itself, which is really how our opponents have started to come after us. Rather than running their own campaigns to lower the minimum wage or something like that, they are working to make it harder to qualify ballot measures, and they’re making it harder to win ballot measures,” said Kelly Hall.
Kelly describes attacks on the ballot measure process as another attack on democracy, as a form of voter suppression. Legislatures in Arkansas and South Dakota, for example, have referred ballot initiatives to change their constitutions, defining a “winning” ballot measure threshold of 60% of the vote instead of 50%. Other legislatures are making it more difficult to collect signatures. The Fairness Project plans to fight these efforts, in addition to continuing work at the local level.
“We are hoping that there will be a lot of municipal work as well, there’s the opportunity to do good work in large municipalities that in some instances have populations that are larger than states Houston and San Antonio and Los Angeles and others where we can bring city or county level measures on a whole host of issues and have more impact human being wise than we could if we were running something in, in a state like Wyoming or South Dakota or, or Idaho so we are exploring more and more of those ballot measures,” said Kelly Hall.
Listen to Kelly Hall’s full interview with Nathaniel Pearlman HERE.