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Ballot initiatives around the country

November 7, 2016 by NCC Staff


The presidential and political office elections aren’t the only big deal on Tuesday. There are plenty of state ballot initiatives that could change life for many Americans.

marijuana_handAccording to the website Ballotpedia, 165 statewide ballot initiatives will be up for a vote on November 8, and 35 states will be offering initiatives. About 205 million people could be affected by the initiatives. And 71 of the ballot measures were started by citizens.

As in typical years, taxes are a popular ballot measure up for voter approval, with various measures affecting about 123 million voters in various states. But there are several areas that do have constitutional implications as ballot measures.

Here is a roundup of those biggest initiatives:

Marijuana legalization

It is a big election for the issue of legalized medical and recreational marijuana.  Currently, 25 states and the District of Columbia have legal medical marijuana use. There are four states and the District of Columbia that also permit recreational use under certain conditions.

On November 8, nine states accounting for 82 million people have marijuana ballot initiatives up for voting. California, Arizona, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts will vote on recreational marijuana. Florida, Arkansas, North Dakota and Montana are considering medical marijuana legalization.

Most likely, voters on November 9 will see at least one of the initiatives pass, indicating that the majority of states would endorse some type of legalized marijuana use. (For the record, marijuana is still considered a controlled substance under federal law.)

Health Care

California and Colorado are considering ballot initiatives that would create the first single-payer health care systems in the country.  California also has a vote on Proposition 61, a measure to set standards for how much state agencies spend on prescriptions for people covered under certain plans. Ballotpedia estimates that more than $125 million has been spent on the campaign over Proposition 61.

Gun Control

Four states are considering measures that could affect about 51 million people. Three states, California, Maine and Nevada, have background check initiatives up for a vote. California’s Proposition 63 also requires a permit to by ammunition.

Also, an initiative in Washington state would allow its courts to issue “extreme risk protection orders” that would bar a person from possessing or accessing firearms if the person is considered a significant danger. Police, family, and household members could ask for the court action,

Minimum Wage

Five states will consider ballot initiatives about minimum wage changes. Thee states, Arizona, Colorado, and Maine, will allow voters to approve raises in the minimum wage to $12.00. Washington state is debating a raise to $13.50.

However, in South Dakota, voters will decide if the minimum wage for workers under 18 years of age should be lowered from $8.50 to $7.50.

Other Unusual Ballot Measures

In Maine, voters will get to offer their opinion on a voting system that allows them to rank candidates by preference, which then allows for an “instant runoff” if no candidate has 50 percent of the vote in elections for Congress or state office.

The system allows voters to rank candidates at the ballot box. If there isn’t a majority winner, the lowest vote getter is eliminated first in the runoff, and the second-choice votes of that candidate’s supporters are allocated to corresponding candidates. The process is repeated until one candidate has a majority of the votes. Several cities, such as San Francisco and Minneapolis, already use the system.

Also, in California, voters will get to consider a ballot measure that forces pornographic actors to wear condoms and a statewide ban on plastic shopping bags.

Election Resources on Constitution Daily

A recent voting history of the 15 Battleground statesExplaining how recounts and contested presidential elections workWho are the Electors in the Electoral College?Two Presidents share the same birthday, but little else


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