Non-Millionaires Deciding What Wealthy Pay: Ballots & Boundaries

Are people more inclined to support a tax increase if it doesn’t touch them? Rich folks in Massachusetts and California are about to find out.

Ballots in a few states ask voters to consider tax proposals. Some would ding the rich, some would ding gamblers.

“Historically, proactive revenue measures have not fared very well,” said Dana Laurent, senior strategic advisor at the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, a liberal group that tracks and assists ballot measure campaigns. When tax initiatives succeed, she said, it’s because the money went to “items that benefit peoples’ community—specifically services and infrastructure such as K-12 education and transportation.”

Jared Walczak, vice president of state projects at the Tax Foundation, agreed that voters “don’t just rubber stamp them because they tax someone else.”

Here are the tax-watching essentials.

ARIZONA: One measure would require a 60% majority vote for approval of tax ballot measures. Another asks voters whether they want to increase the state sales tax by 0.1% for 20 years to fund state fire districts.

CALIFORNIA and MASSACHUSETTS: Extra taxes on the wealthy are proposed to pay for electric vehicle infrastructure, education, and transportation projects.

ALSO IN CALIFORNIA: Two competing measures seek to legalize and tax sports betting. One would allow sports it at tribal casinos. The other would let adults bet online at sites like DraftKings Inc., BetMGM, and FanDuel Inc. The gambling campaigns are the most expensive in the country, according to the campaign finance tracker OpenSecrets.

COLORADO: Voters will decide whether to creatively get more from the wealthy by limiting their deductions while slightly cutting the state income tax rate.

READ MORE from Bloomberg Tax reporter Laura Mahoney.

See also:

(Was this newsletter forwarded? It’s free! GET YOUR OWN. Next week we’ll run through all the major statewide ballot questions.)

A New York State Appellate Court heard oral arguments this morning on two cases challenging the state’s absentee ballot laws.

One case asks if a pandemic-related law temporarily allowing no-excuse absentee ballots violated the state Constitution. Also at issue: a law allowing voters to “cure” or fix errors on absentee ballots, and opening absentee ballots before Election Day to prepare them for counting.

A lower court judge sided with state Republican and Conservative Party leaders, saying the canvassing law is unconstitutional, the Albany Times Union reports. Absentee and early voting is already underway in the state. — Keshia Clukey

Election drop-box watchers in Arizona can keep monitoring people depositing their ballots, according to a federal court order.

A judge denied the request of Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans and Voto Latino to halt what the groups argue is intimidation by people gathered at ballot drop boxes—including some in tactical gear. The court said its denial protects First Amendment rights to “engage in political speech” and peacefully assemble.

Meanwhile, the office of Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) told people to report “intimidating persons or circumstances” to local police. Litigation against the drop-box watchers continue through an appeal and separate lawsuit. — Brenna Goth

See also:

There’s a significant financial divide between campaigns spending money to influence the abortion-access question (Proposal 3) on Michigan’s ballot.

Bridge Michigan reports that the abortion-rights side has raised $40.2 million, more than double the $16.9 million raised by the “no” side.

Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab is warning Kansans they may receive text messages misdirecting them to bogus in-person voting sites.

“Voters should be on high alert for these messages,” Schwab said in a statement. “We encourage voters to confirm their polling place and preview their ballot before heading to the polls.”

Movement Labs, a group with the goal of increasing voter participation among marginalized communities, issued an apology.

“In some of our texts, we sent addresses and images of drop-box locations when we intended only to include in-person early vote locations. We didn’t specify in our text that we were trying to encourage voters to vote early,” according to Movement Labs’ statement. — Stephen Joyce

The Oregon Elections Division said it discovered a software error that ran afoul of the state’s motor-voter goals.

The state’s supposed to offer 16- and 17-year-olds the chance to preregister as voters when they apply for their first driving permits. For the past six years, that hasn’t happened consistently. As a result, 7,767 eligible voters in Oregon — out of 2,976,195 registered voters — missed out on the chance for easy voter registration. — Joyce Cutler

Razor’s Edge Races

We’ve been chronicling the impact of redistricting by highlighting a different too-close-for-the-professionals to-call contest each week. Here’s a look at all of them, pulled together in a handy downloadable format: BGOV OnPoint: Razor’s Edge Races

Caught Our Eye

  • A candidate for Michigan secretary of state candidate wants to invalidate absentee ballots in next week’s election — but only in heavily Democratic Detroit. (Bridge Michigan)
  • How the Biden Administration Caved to Republicans on Fighting Election Disinformation (ProPublica)
  • A Wisconsin man accused of posting his marked election ballot on social media has been charged with a felony. (AP)
  • A federal judge on Monday declined to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed against former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani by two election workers. (AP)


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To contact the reporters on this story: Laura Mahoney in Sacramento, Calif. at; Brenna Goth in Phoenix at; Stephen Joyce in Chicago at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Katherine Rizzo at