Election Day 2020 was extremely confusing, stressful, occasionally hopeful and often disheartening.
Above all, the unexpected and inconclusive results of November 3 left us as a nation unsure of the direction we will go in 2021 and beyond. While it will take a while to sort out the impact of this election, including who will control the presidency and U.S. Senate, we can highlight some of the most important results that came in on Tuesday.
1. 'The Squad' wins, and grows
Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib all won reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives. Together, the four Congresswomen have collectively become known as The Squad as they’ve promoted progressive policies such as the Green New Deal and responding to attacks from President Donald Trump and others.
As Blavity previously reported, The Squad may gain a new member in Cori Bush, the activist from Missouri who was elected to Congress to represent St. Louis and Ferguson. Other progressive candidates elected to the U.S. House include Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres from New York and Nikema Williams from Georgia.
2. Mississippi’s got a brand-new flag and less racist election law
Earlier this year, Mississippi finally got rid of its state flag, which had been the last remaining state banner that included the Confederate Flag as part of its design. Now, Mississippians have approved its replacement. The new flag, The New Magnolia, incorporates a magnolia flower along with various symbolic stripes and stars, as described by NBC News. The new flag is commonly called the “In God We Trust” flag, as those words also appear on it.
This will be the new state flag of Mississippi. Voters overwhelmingly approved it. This is a great day for the state as we move forward from a divisive emblem that now rests in the past. pic.twitter.com/nZorS0tVUd
— Sam R. Hall (@samrhall) November 4, 2020
In a separate measure on the same ballot, Mississippians voted to alter a Jim Crow-era law that made it harder for Black candidates to win statewide office. As detailed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the law previously required candidates for state office to win both a popular vote and the approval of a majority of the state's districts, which have been gerrymandered along racial lines. By passing Ballot Measure 2, candidates in Mississippi now only have to win a popular vote to be elected.
3. Marijuana has been legalized in several states
For those hoping to take Nate Dog’s advice to “smoke weed everyday,” four new states will now allow this without legal consequences. The New York Times reports that voters in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota all approved measures that legalized marijuana for recreational use. Oregon has gone several steps further, legalizing psychedelic mushrooms and decriminalized small amounts of harder drugs, including cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. Except for the mushrooms, these other drugs are not legalized, but punishment for possessing them will now be similar to a parking ticket rather than jail time. Mississippi, meanwhile, approved medical marijuana but has not legalized recreational use of the drug.
4. Florida raises the minimum wage
Although a majority of Floridians voted for Donald Trump, the state simultaneously approved a raise of the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour over the next six years. It’s unclear how many individuals voted for both Trump and the minimum wage, but given that over 60% of voters supported the pay hike, there has to be some overlap between the two groups of voters. After a 2018 referendum restored voting rights for Floridians with felony convictions in 2018, Florida's minimum wage hike shows that the state's voting public is more progressive than its presidential choices would imply.
5. California restores voting rights to formerly incarcerated people
Californians voted to pass Proposition 17, a measure that restores voting rights to those who are on parole following felony convictions. The law will restore the right to vote for the state's 50,000 parolees, most of whom are Black, Latino or Asian. Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris was one of several prominent Californian politicians who backed the measure. Alongside Florida's restoration of voting rights mentioned above, California's move represents part of a movement towards recognizing voting as a basic and important right for all citizens.
6. Colorado rejects late-term abortion ban, approves paid family leave
Voters in Colorado rejected a ballot measure that would have banned abortion after 22 weeks and fined doctors who performed the procedure except as a lifesaving measure for the pregnant woman. Proposition 115 was the latest of several abortion restrictions that have been rejected by Colorado voters since 2008. Voters within the state approved another measure, Proposition 118, which creates a $1.3 billion dollar paid family leave program for parents in the state.
7. Delaware elects first trans state legislator Sarah McBride
Finally, Delaware voters elected Sarah McBride to the state's senate. As CNN reports, McBride becomes both Delaware's first out LGBTQ state senator and the nation's first transgender state legislator. McBride is a longtime LGBTQ advocate, having previously worked for the Human Rights Campaigned and interned for the Obama administration.
These candidate elections and other vote outcomes from around the country show that millions of voters in the 2020 election were committed to moving their states and the country in a progressive direction.