Yesterday, voters chose new leaders. They entrusted them with the responsibility to draft legislation; and soon, those officials will guide cites, counties, states, and the nation. But, with hundreds of ballot measures in at least 37 states—and more on local polls—voters were also given the opportunity to shape policy themselves.
A “blue wave” may not have overwhelmingly swept Congress, but there was undoubtedly a progressive wave across ballot initiatives, even in conservative states and cities: Minimum wages will rise in Arkansas and Missouri. Louisiana reformed its criminal justice system. Portland will fund environmental equity. California will rebalance its budget with housing assistance in mind. Some Seattle public school students might soon secure free education. Even Medicaid expansion was approved in three red states. And, while reports of rampant voter disenfranchisement soured election results in states like Georgia, voters also approved new re-enfranchisement and gerrymanding reform measures. There have, of course, been some exceptions: Among other things, two more cities voted to ban fluoridated water, and Washington state didn’t pass its carbon fee.