2022 State Elections Toolkit
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Key Takeaways:

  • In this upcoming election, voters will have the opportunity to vote on 140 ballot measures in 37 states
  • Nevada voters have the opportunity to follow Alaska and pass the first of two necessary ballot initiatives to implement ranked choice voting for races at the statewide level
  • Colorado and Massachusetts have alcohol initiatives on the ballot, that if passed would make substantive changes to licensing and the number of liquor licenses available

Ballot initiatives are a process in which citizens are able to propose statutes and amend state constitutions, and can cover a vast variety of citizen concerns from property taxes to term limits for state legislators. This year, voters will decide on 140 ballot measures in 37 states. Below we take a look at a handful initiatives attempting to adopt a new way of voting and make changes to alcohol rules.

Nevada Ranked Choice Voting Initiative 

Ranked choice voting is an electoral system in which voters rank up to five candidates in order of their preference. If a candidate receives more than 50 percent of first choice votes they are declared the winner. But if no candidate clears the 50 percent threshold, the counting will continue in subsequent rounds based on the voter’s subsequent choice of candidates. The candidate with the least votes is eliminated at the end of each round and their votes are redistributed to the second choice on each ballot until a winner is declared. Voters in Nevada will have the opportunity to become the second state to adopt ranked choice voting at the statewide level. 

Ranked choice voting has experienced increased popularity in recent years as an increasing number of states and cities have begun experimenting with the electoral system. Although, thus far only Alaska has adopted ranked choice voting for federal and state level elections. Maine also enacted ranked choice voting, but the state supreme court invalidated its use for state elections, so the state only uses it for federal elections. 

Nevada ballot question number 3, if passed, would establish open top five primaries and ranked choice voting for congressional, gubernatorial, state executive offices and state legislative offices. Since the ranked choice voting initiative would amend the state constitution, voters would need to approve the measure this November as well as in the 2024 election for ranked choice voting to be used in the 2026 election cycle and beyond. Nevada’s ranked choice voting initiative has received opposition from top state Democrats as well as top state Republicans. Polling has shown a continual decline in support for the initiative since July.  

Alcohol Initiatives 

Colorado has three alcohol initiatives on the ballot in 2022. These initiatives work to expand liquor licensing in the state. Colorado Proposition 124 would incrementally increase the number of liquor licenses allowed to be held by an owner, part owner, shareholder, or person directly or indirectly involved in a retail liquor business. This would be raised to 8 licenses by December 2026, 13 licenses by December 2031, 20 licenses by December 2036, and unlimited licenses by 2037. Colorado Proposition 125 amends the Colorado Beer Code to allow for the sale of wine in grocery and convenience stores that are currently licensed to sell beer. If passed, this initiative would go into effect on March 1, 2023. Colorado Proposition 126 would allow retail establishments licensed to sell alcohol for off-site consumption to offer delivery services or provide for third party delivery services. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic Colorado authorized takeout and delivery alcohol by bars and restaurants. This law, which was written to automatically repeal on July 1, 2025, would be made permanent and expanded to grocery stores, convenience stores, and liquor stores by Proposition 126.  

In Massachusetts, Ballot Question 3 would make several changes to alcohol licensing in the state. Similar to Colorado Proposition 124, it would incrementally increase the combined number of retail beer and wine licenses and all alcohol licenses for the sale of alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption that could be owned or controlled by one retailer. This limit would increase to 12 licenses on January 1, 2023, to 15 licenses on January 1, 2027, and to 18 licenses on January 1, 2031. Conversely the initiative would cap the number of licenses for the sale of all alcoholic beverages held by one retailer to 7 beginning in 2023, unless the retailer already owns more than 7 licenses on December 31, 2022. Question 3 would also prohibit automated or self-checkout sales of alcohol. The initiative would formally allow out-of-state drivers licenses as an acceptable form of identity and would change the calculation basis for fines paid for selling to underage consumers.