As of Wednesday morning, we’re still waiting for the results of the presidential election, and we’ll likely have to wait longer than any of us are comfortable with. But across the U.S., lower-level elections and ballot initiatives have already been decided, and there are quite a few reasons to be hopeful. We’ve rounded up some of the “firsts” and other historic markers that have already resulted from the 2020 election. We’ll update this post with others as they’re announced.
In a decision that was undoubtedly affected by how terrible 2020 has been, Arizona became the 13th state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, shortly following New Jersey.
Voters passed Prop. 17, which will restore the right to vote to more than 50,000 parolees in the state. *And for the first time in it’s 150-year long history, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will consist entirely of women. According to the L.A. Times, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors is considered the most powerful local governmental body in the country.*
The state became the first to create a paid family and medical leave program through a ballot measure. All state residents will have access to 12 paid weeks to care for a new baby, recover from injury, illness or domestic violence, care for a family member or report for military service.
Sarah McBride, a 30-year-old LGBTQ activist, will become the nation’s first openly trans state senator and the highest-ranking openly trans lawmaker in the country after winning her race. McBride was previously an intern in the Obama administration and press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign. “I spent my entire life feeling like tonight was so incomprehensible that it was seemingly impossible,” McBride told BuzzFeed News.
With the victories of Michele Raynor-Goolsby and Shevrin Jones, Florida has elected its first openly queer Black woman as a state legislator and its first openly LGBTQ+ state senator, respectively. Florida voters also approved a $15 minimum wage. Miami-Dade County also elected its first female mayor: Daniella Levine Cava beat her Republican opponent for the second most powerful executive position in the state, after the governor.
Kim Jackson will become the first openly LGBTQ+ state senator in Georgia history after defeating her Republican opponent.
Stephanie Byers’ victory Tuesday night makes her the first openly transgender person ever elected to the Kansas state House and the first openly trans person of color ever elected to a state legislature in the U.S.
The state voted to end a Jim Crow-era electoral college like-system that was designed to dilute the Black vote in the state. Now, popular vote alone will determine the races for governor and other top offices. Mississippi also approved a ballot measure that will establish a medical marijuana program for patients with specific conditions.
Cori Bush’s victory in her race for Missouri’s 1st Congressional District makes her the first Black woman to be elected to Congress from Missouri. A registered nurse and ordained pastor, Bush is also a prominent activist who protested the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson in 2014. She previously ran for the House of Representatives in 2018 and for a Senate seat in 2016.
Voters passed two ballot initiatives that will legalize the recreational use of marijuana.
New Jersey became the 12th state to legalize recreational marijuana.
The state made history by electing its first House delegation comprising entirely of women of color. Deb Haaland, one of the first Native American woman in Congress, was re-elected for her second term. Yvette Herell, a member of the Cherokee Nation, won her race for New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District and Teresa Leger Fernandez won her race for the 3rd. Leger Fernandez is the first woman to hold her seat since its creation in 1983.
New York saw a slew of historic wins on Tuesday night. Mondaire Jones won his race for New York’s 17th Congressional District, making him one of the nation’s first openly queer Black congressmen along with Ritchie Torres, who won his race for the 15th Congressional District in the South Bronx. Torres is also the first openly queer Afro-Latino to serve in Congress. Additionally, Jabari Brisport won his race for New York’s 25th District, making him the first LGBTQ person of color elected to the New York state legislature. Khaleel Anderson’s victory in his race for a seat in the New York State Assembly makes the 24-year-old Queens native the youngest Black person in state history to win public office.
Oregon became the first state to vote to legalize psychedelic mushrooms in controlled environments.
Nikil Saval became the first Asian-American elected into the Pennsylvania State Senate.
Voters passed a ballot measure that will legalize the medical use of marijuana.
Torrey Harris and Eddie Mannis’ victories in their respective state House races make them the first openly LGBTQ officials ever elected to Tennessee state legislature.
Fort Bend elected Eric Fagan as its first Black sheriff since Reconstruction. Texas City also elected Dedrick Johnson as the city’s first Black mayor.
Taylor Small was elected to the state’s House of Representatives, making her the state’s first openly transgender legislator.
Tarra Simmons became the state’s first formerly incarcerated state legislator after winning her race for a seat in the state’s House of Representatives.