Washington, DC – This week, Bloomberg, Axios, and the Washington Post spoke with Kelly Hall, Executive Director of Fairness Project, about the beginning of the Ballot Measure Rescue Campaign, a $5 million effort to fight back against state legislative efforts to shut down people-powered ballot measures that in recent years have been critical to improving the lives of millions.
The BMRC focuses on states attempting to make ballot measures inaccessible across the country, like South Dakota and Arkansas where legislatures are trying to redefine the meaning of majority rule, proposing legislation that requires 60% of voters to approve a ballot measure in order for it to take effect. Also North Dakota, where a group is vying to get a similar measure before voters that would require a three-fifths supermajority vote to change the state Constitution.
In 2021 alone, there were at least 93 bills introduced by Republican state legislatures that would make passing ballot measures more difficult. Thirteen of those bills passed in Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Arkansas, and South Dakota. So far this year, another 28 such bills already have been introduced by Republicans.
“It’s certainly the most ballot measures we’ve ever seen referred to curtail ballot measure access,” Kelly Hall told The Washington Post. “We have seen one per cycle, basically, and now we’ve already got six.”
“It is a death by 1,000 cuts,” Kelly Hall told Bloomberg. “Very rarely do we see an attack on our democracy that is an outright ban on voting or on ballot measures.”
“All of these barriers may not feel like they’re insurmountable, but just like the other attacks on voting rights, it’s sort of cumulative, which makes using direct democracy harder,” Kelly Hall told Axios.
The BMRC is a campaign of the Fairness Project, which has won 23 of its last 24 campaigns. Since 2016, Fairness Project has carved a path for progress through partisan gridlock by using ballot measures to raise wages, expand Medicaid, stop predatory payday lenders, and secure more paid time off. Now, they’re going on offense to protect the ballot measure process itself because it’s one of the few ways everyday people have been able to win in recent years.
You can read more about the Ballot Measure Rescue Campaign HERE.