Skip to content
CityLab
Government

How Coronavirus Is Killing Off Ballot Measures

Campaign events are canceled, canvassers are homebound, and ballot initiatives are stalled as coronavirus lockdowns limit voter-led democratic efforts.
A California voter casts a ballot in 2016. With coronavirus lockdowns hampering signature-gathering efforts, the state's 2020 ballot will be light on voter referendums.
A California voter casts a ballot in 2016. With coronavirus lockdowns hampering signature-gathering efforts, the state's 2020 ballot will be light on voter referendums.David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Right now, Melissa Lavasani expected to be going door-to-door collecting signatures for Decriminalize Nature D.C., the campaign to stop arrests for the possession or growing of psychedelic plants that she launched in the District last December. She needs to gather at least 35,000 signatures by July 6 to get the measure onto D.C.’s ballot for the November election.

But with the city under a stay-at-home order, her campaign’s on hold. Lavasani fears that without the ability to do field work, Decriminalize Nature’s 2020 campaign will fail to qualify — a looming worry shared by proponents of ballot measures, initiatives, and referendums in states and cities across the country.