Listed here are the primary technical voting initiatives that have been handed on this election


While the presidential election is still in balance, several electoral initiatives with far-reaching implications for the use of technology are successful.

Election initiatives pose questions to voters and – if passed – can create, amend, or repeal existing state laws. In total, there were 129 national election initiatives in these presidential elections, including many related to taxes and drug legalization.

Here is a summary of some technology policy initiatives with broader national implications and their implications for consumers, privacy and businesses. We will update it as soon as the forwarding of further such questions is confirmed in the next few days.

California: Gig workers don't become employees

Proposal 22 was easily adopted by California voters, which means gig workers for apps like Lyft, Uber, and Doordash will not become employees of these companies. Instead, they remain independent contractors. This essentially kills AB-5, which was passed last year, which would have given gig workers the same protections as other workers, such as minimum wage, benefits and compensation. The proposal also includes a provision that a The majority in the California Senate has to overturn it, which makes changes very difficult. As Mary-Beth Moylan, a law professor at the McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, recently noted, it is more common in electoral initiatives that a ¾ majority is required to pass, rather than ⅞.

A consortium of tech companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates spent more than $ 200 million on it – most of that spent on a California offering. Their huge financial advantage was compounded by having access to in-app marketing, including messages indicating that “Yes to 22” would protect workers. In contrast, the union-led opposition raised nearly $ 20 million.

Given the mismatch in spending, the results were somewhat expected – and both fundraising and marketing could be a playbook for future battles between tech companies and consumers.

California, too: enhanced privacy for consumers

The "Law and Agency Initiative for Personal Consumer Information", a.k.a. Proposition 24, was also passed, adding more privacy to the state's consumers. The proposal includes creating a new enforcement agency for the state's privacy laws, expanding the types of information consumers cannot share with advertisers, and moving the state's "do not sell" requirement to "do not sell and share".

The measure was actually a bit controversial among data protection groups, as we explained before the vote:

“Consumers would still have to choose protection instead of opting out, and businesses could charge more for goods and services to make up for the revenue they lose when they are not allowed to sell data. This could make it difficult for low-income and other marginalized groups to exercise their data protection rights. "

Massachusetts: a law governing the right to repair vehicles

Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of Question 1, “Changing the Right to Repair,” which gives car owners and independent mechanics better access to wireless vehicle data. Massachusetts passed a similar law in 2013 that required diagnostic data to be shared with independent mechanics, but that did not cover wireless data, which has become increasingly common over the past seven years. This law should fill this gap. His passage is a blow to the automakers who have voted no. They argued that this change would not give them enough time to protect car security systems from being hacked.

The bill applies to cars manufactured after 2022, and it's likely it won't just affect Massachusetts. Auto companies, like other consumer goods companies, typically meet the highest regulatory standards set by the states.

Michigan:: electronic data are protected from inappropriate search

Michigan's Proposal 22, which requires a search warrant for electronics, data and communications, is passed by a wide margin. A number of states, including Missouri and New Hampshire, have already passed similar laws to protect electronic information.

And here is one that failed:

California: Courts will revert to bail on risk assessment

California Proposal 25, which would have confirmed SB10, a bill that would have replaced the cash bail system with criminal risk assessment tools, will have no more than 10 percentage points ahead. It reiterates a highly controversial and ongoing debate on criminal justice reform that has taken place across the country.

The question is whether risk assessment algorithms are a fairer bail method of deciding which defendants should stay in jail before trial. Cash bail, which requires the defendants to pay an amount of money set by a judge to be released, has been shown to discriminate against those on low incomes. In contrast, risk assessment algorithms use historical data to predict the likelihood that a defendant will be insulted again during their investigative time and to decide whether to detain or release them based on that likelihood.

While some argue that this is a “more objective” alternative to bail, research has shown that such algorithms are also discriminatory – against both low-income people and blacks, who are disproportionately represented in the detained population. It is also difficult for a defendant or attorney to challenge their decisions.

SB10 was originally adopted in 2018 and came into effect in 2019. This made California the first state to abolish bail in favor of risk assessments. The decision sparked heated controversy and led to the introduction of Prop 25 in this year's vote. A no to Prop 25 will now cancel the bill and send an interesting signal to jurisdictions across the country: bail may still be a discriminatory system, but replacing it with a discriminatory algorithm is not the answer.

Update November 4, 2020, 2:50 p.m. ET: California's Prop 25 was added to the story. Further updates will be added as other reconciliation actions are confirmed.


Steven Gregory