From an Income Tax Ban to Democracy Dollars, These Are the Ballot Measures to Watch This Election Day

November 5, 2019, 2:54 PM UTC

November 5th is Election Day, and while there won’t be any presidential candidates on Tuesday’s ballots, numerous state and local constituencies will have the opportunity to vote on issues ranging from municipal leadership to land use.

Few voters actually bother to cast a ballot in an off-cycle year, when there is neither a presidential nor midterm election. According to a 2016 study by Portland State University, turnout for local elections is less than 15% in 10 of America’s 30 largest cities. This is despite the fact that these elections can have huge impacts not only locally, but on the national level.

Here are four local elections and ballot measures that could make waves this Election Day. If you live in one of these cities—or any others holding elections—don’t forget to check your voter registration and get to the polls.

Texas Might Constitutionally Ban Individual Income Tax

Texas is one of seven states, including Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Washington, and Wyoming, that do not levy an income tax on its residents. Texas never has imposed an income tax, and if Proposition 4 passes, it likely never will.

Proposition 4 aims to edit the Texas State Constitution so that the legislation is banned from taxing the “net incomes of individuals.” The constitution already makes it difficult to enact such a tax: currently any attempt to implement an income tax must be put to vote before the citizens, and if approved, revenue from the tax must go toward education.

Under Proposition 4, this language would be replaced with an outright ban, meaning any future legislation wishing to enact an income tax would have to do so with a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds majority in both chambers. Proposition 4 narrowly achieved the two-thirds it needed to reach the ballot earlier this year.

Proponents of the Proposition 4, led in part by Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Texas), argue the amendment would solidify the state’s commitment to welcoming business. Opponents say the measure unnecessarily ties the hands of future legislations. They’re also wary the amendment’s language—which uses the term “individual” instead of “natural persons” without clarification—could be used to exempt corporations from taxes, as well.

Teachers’ associations in Texas oppose the measure because it eliminates the guarantee that if an income tax were to be implemented in the future, the funds would go to education. On the other hand, a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll found in March that 71% of Texas voters say the state should not consider creation of an income tax if money is needed to raise money for schools—60% said they’d rather legalize marijuana and tax that instead.

Texans voted to pass Proposition 4, with about three-fourths of voters supporting the constitutional ban on income tax.

San Francisco Could Reverse City Law Banning Vaping Products

If Proposition C on the San Francisco ballot passes, the sale of electronic cigarettes and other nicotine vapor products in the city would be permitted under certain regulations. Juul, the most well-known vaping product company, is based in San Francisco and was the main sponsor of the proposition.

The measure would reverse a city law that suspended the sale or shipment of such products within city limits until they are authorized by the FDA, starting in January 2020. Since an outbreak of vaping-related illness and deaths, several states have enacted similar bans targeting flavored e-cigarettes.

Under the regulations outlined by Proposition C, the advertisement of vaping products to minors would be prohibited in San Francisco. Retailers of vaping products would have to scan photo IDs to ensure the customer is at least 21 years old, limit the number of products sold per transaction, and train their employees twice a year. Larger online retailers would have to obtain a permit from the city, with the fees going toward youth education programs warning of the effects of nicotine and vaping.

Proponents of the measure say the new regulations will keep vaping products out of kids’ hands while allowing responsible adults to use the devices as an alternative to combustible cigarettes. Opponents—including San Francisco’s mayor—argue Proposition C is Juul’s attempt to protect its bottom line.

According to Ballotpedia, Juul loaned $15.5 million to the Coalition for Reasonable Vaping Regulation, the organization behind Proposition C. After a review of company policy, however, CEO K.C. Crosthwait announced in late September that Juul would cease active support for Proposition C. The Coalition for Reasonable Vaping Regulation suspended its Yes on C campaign shortly thereafter, but the measure remains on the November 5 ballot.

San Francisco voters rejected Proposition C, keeping the city’s temporary e-cigarette ban in place.

Albuquerque Might Use ‘Democracy Dollars’ to Strengthen Publicly Financed Candidates

Albuquerque, New Mexico may become the second city after Seattle to implement “Democracy Dollars.” The system allows voters to donate $25 government vouchers to a qualified candidate of their choosing, lessening the strength of wealthy private donors.

Albuquerque Democracy Dollars, the group leading Proposition 2, says giving each resident a $25 voucher for political donation will help make the political donor pool as diverse as the city. A 2017 study found that while 41% of Albuquerque residents are white and 48% are Hispanic, the donor pool in Albuquerque is 70% white and 23% Hispanic.

Moreover, 70% of Albuquerque voted for the Open and Ethical Election public financing code in 2005, meaning the majority of voters want to get big money out of politics.

According to Albuquerque Democracy Dollars, no new taxes would be needed for the voucher program because much of the Open and Ethical Election funds have gone unused—particularly since the Supreme Court shut down the program’s attempt to match privately funded candidates’ donations in 2011.

The amount of Democracy Dollars a candidate can receive would be capped at the same level as their initial amounts under Proposition 2. Proposition 1 on the ballot aims to raise the limits on how much seed money a candidate can collect, allowing each candidate to receive another $150 per person and another $2,000 from themselves, as long as they follow certain rules.

The Albuquerque Journal editorial board argued the Open and Ethical Elections Fund will be exhausted in one or two election cycles, meaning more taxes will be necessary. They also said the system does little to help small-name candidates qualify for public financing in the first place, negating the goal of having “average folks” run for office.

Albuquerque voters rejected Proposition 2 by a small margin, choosing not to implement the Democracy Dollars system.

A Seattle Councilwoman Aiming to Boost Amazon’s Taxes Could Be Reelected

Kshama Sawant has been representing her district in Seattle City Hall for two terms as a member of the Socialist Alternative Party, and Amazon wants her out. The tech giant has donated $1.45 million to the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, a group that’s endorsed Sawant’s opponent: businessman and Pridefest leader Egan Orion.

Two members of the Seattle city council expressed outrage at this and endorsed Sawant after initially distancing themselves in the primary. Amazon’s spending has been criticized by 2020 candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, as well.

Sawant was one of two council members who retained their support of a per-employee “head tax” targeting big businesses last year after Amazon pushed back. The rest of the council voted to repeal the tax, which was intended to raise millions for programs to address homelessness.

Local leaders of Seattle and its county declared a state of emergency over homelessness in 2015. Sawant has made rent control one of her leading issues, arguing this and “a massive expansion of social housing (publicly-owned affordable housing) funded by taxing Amazon and other big businesses” could abate the crisis.

Amazon, which employs more than 50,000 at its Seattle headquarters, has attempted to replace taxation with action: it’s made space for family homeless shelter Mary’s Place within one of its new buildings, creating a temporary home for up to 275 individuals.

Seattle voters will decide Tuesday whether they want to give Sawant another change to take on big tech.

Sawant narrowly beat her opponent in the week following the election as the final ballots were counted.

More must-read stories from Fortune:

Paul Ryan’s new foundation makes poverty experts and Medicare advocates nervous
—Wall Street’s scorn for Elizabeth Warren boils over
Trump’s national parks changes could, ironically, help Jeff Bezos
—Sherrod Brown has some advice for 2020 candidates hoping to win in Ohio
Prisoners are fighting wildfires on the front lines, but getting little in return
Get up to speed on your morning commute with Fortune’s CEO Daily newsletter.

Read More

Biden AdministrationUkraine InvasionInflationEnergyCybersecurity