Hundreds of protesters rally in Harrisburg on Saturday, May 14, 2022, to promote abortion access (Capital-Star photo).
By Christine Vestal
Encouraged by six victories — and zero defeats — in this month’s midterm elections, abortion rights advocates are considering another round of ballot measures in 2024 that would enshrine reproductive freedom in state constitutions.
This time, they’re mostly aiming at states with tight abortion restrictions already on the books, hoping to outflank anti-abortion state lawmakers and courts that are out of step with most residents.
Based on the midterms, the presence of such initiatives on the ballot also could give a boost to Democratic candidates. Contrary to predictions, abortion was the top issue for a large percentage of voters, especially those in states where an abortion measure was on the ballot, according to exit polls.
Only 17 states allow citizens, not just lawmakers, to initiate ballot proposals to amend the state constitution. Among those, abortion rights supporters in at least 10 states with abortion bans or tight restrictions — Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Dakota — are already discussing strategies and tactics for putting abortion initiatives on the 2024 presidential election ballot.
“They’re starting now, because the process for getting any type of measure on the ballot takes a very long time,” said Kelly Hall, executive director of the Fairness Project, which provides technical assistance on state ballot initiatives.
Abortion rights are particularly well-suited to the ballot measure process, she said, because it gives voters the power to determine how they’ll be governed when elected leaders are out of sync with public opinion.
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