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Voters in these states could make big changes to how their elections are run

Election workers sort absentee ballots at the Lansing city clerk's office on Nov. 3, 2020, in Lansing, Mich. This fall, Michigan voters will weigh in on an expansive ballot question that would change the voting process.
John Moore
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Getty Images
Election workers sort absentee ballots at the Lansing city clerk's office on Nov. 3, 2020, in Lansing, Mich. This fall, Michigan voters will weigh in on an expansive ballot question that would change the voting process.

This fall, Michigan and Nevada feature competitive, top-of-the-ticket elections for offices like governor.

But that's not all. Voters in the swing states could also make significant changes to how their elections are administered.

Michigan and Nevada are among the states where voters this year are set to decide ballot measures relating to the elections process. Here's a rundown.

Michigan's measure

Michigan was officially added to the list last week, after the state's high court ordered the Board of State Canvassers — which had previously deadlocked along partisan lines — to certify a citizen-led amendment on voting. (The court ruled the same way for a closely watched measure on abortion rights.)

The "Promote the Vote" proposal would make a series of changes to the Michigan Constitution, including expanding access to early voting, absentee ballots and ballot drop boxes, and allowing voters to sign an affidavit to attest to their identity when they don't have a photo ID.

The amendment push comes after Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed several Republican-led voting measures over the last year.

And it's as a separate proposal, "Secure MI Vote" — which has GOP support, and would tighten rules around voting — has been organized as well, though it won't be on the 2022 ballot. If "Promote the Vote" passes this fall, it could preempt many of the changes backers of "Secure MI Vote" may seek to make in the future.

Even bigger changes could come to Nevada

Voters cast their ballots at Reno High School for Nevada's statewide primaries on June 14.
Trevor Bexon / Getty Images
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Voters cast their ballots at Reno High School for Nevada's statewide primaries on June 14.

In Nevada, another citizen-led amendment would establish open primaries, in which all candidates are on one ballot and the top five advance. Ranked-choice voting would then be used for general elections until the winner gets majority support. The system would be for state and federal elections, but not for presidential contests.

Notably, the Las Vegas Review-Journal adds this unique Nevada detail: Since the proposal "would amend the state constitution, voters would need to approve in 2022 and again in 2024 for it to take effect, starting with the 2026 election cycle."

The changes in Nevada, if approved, would be similar to the new system in Alaska that helped Democrat Mary Peltola top two Republicans to win a special congressional election two weeks ago. Nevada's top Democrats, including its governor and two U.S. senators, however, oppose the switch to open primaries and ranked-choice voting.

The complicated story in Arizona

Another key swing state, Arizona, has a proposal on this fall's ballot that would add identification requirements to the voting process.

And it looked as though voters could weigh in on a far more sweeping voting measure, too, if it not for controversial court rulings that kept it off the ballot.

Late last month the Arizona Supreme Court upheld a decision that the Arizona Republic described as a "stunning reversal by a lower-court judge who ultimately concluded the Arizona Free and Fair Elections Act fell 1,458 short of the needed 237,645 valid voter signatures to qualify for the Nov. 8 ballot."

Backers of the proposal — which would have enacted a slew of changes to expand voting access, including same-day voter registration — blasted the ruling by the high court justices, who were all appointed by Republican governors.

"Voters turned in 475,000 signatures — double the 237,645 requirement. But, Governor [Doug] Ducey's expanded and stacked Supreme Court found a way to invalidate over 50% of the signatures," Stacy Pearson, spokesperson for the ballot measure, said in a statement to the Arizona Mirror.

Opponents of the proposal said it would have ushered in "radical" reforms, and challenged tens of thousands of petition signatures, in part due to issues with signature-gatherers' paperwork.

Some other ballot measures to watch

- Connecticut: Voters will decide whether to amend the state constitution to allow lawmakers to pass a bill for in-person early voting. Connecticut is one of just four states that don't have early in-person voting available for all voters.

- Nebraska: As in Arizona, Nebraskans will also vote on a photo ID proposal.

- Louisiana, Ohio: Both states have measures that would prohibit non-U.S. citizens from voting in any local elections. The proposals follow efforts in some municipalities nationwide to open up local elections to noncitizens.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Benjamin Swasey
Ben Swasey is an editor on the Washington Desk who mostly covers politics and voting.