Nearly half of all Election Day ballot initiatives proposed by grassroots citizens

Voters in 35 states will decide a total of 162 ballot initiatives Tuesday, according to Ballotpedia — including 71 proposed by U.S. citizens — dealing with public policy issues such as marijuana, gun control, minimum wage and campaign finance reform.

The most popular question relates to marijuana, as nine states are deciding whether to legalize the drug for either recreational or medicinal use. Citizens of California, Massachusetts, Arizona, Nevada and Maine will vote on all-out legalization, while Florida, Arkansas, Montana and North Dakota are considering use of the drug for those with certain illnesses.

Healthcare is the second most voted on issue, with five states deciding specific issues such whether to approve prescription drug cost controls in California and a state run medical insurance system in Colorado.

Gun control and minimum wage proposals are on the ballot in a total of six states, with all eight expected to pass. Three of the four states with gun measures — California, Nevada and Maine — are proposing increased background checks on firearm and ammunition sales, as well as intrastate firearm transfers.

Arizona, Colorado, Washington state and Maine are all offering initiatives to increase the minimum wage in their respective states, with three of the four proposing an increase to $12 per hour by 2020. Washington state is proposing an increase to $13.50 by the start of the next decade.

Campaign finance limits in Missouri and Washington state are proposed in the form of constitutional amendments that would limit how much state-office seekers could raise for their respective campaigns. Washington state and South Dakota are also deciding whether to enact a publicly financed campaign system.

Three states will vote on death penalty laws, as California and Nebraska are asking voters whether to abolish the practice, while Oklahoma is proposing that more methods of execution be used which are “not prohibited” by the U.S. Constitution.

Lastly, four states, including California, Colorado and Missouri are considering an increase to their respective state’s cigarette tax.

Other miscellaneous propositions include: Washington, D.C., statehood, renamed “New Columbia”; state constitutional amendments in Indiana and Kansas establishing a right for citizens to hunt and fish; a Virginia state constitutional amendment to outlaw union-exclusive companies; and a carbon emissions tax in Washington state.

In addition, the cities of Boulder, Colo., and San Francisco, Oakland and Albany, Calif., will decide on whether to adopt their own version of the “soda tax”, which would raise the cost of sugary drinks for consumers.

In San Francisco, residents will vote on 25 local policy questions in addition to 17 state ballot measures. Initiatives unique to the West Coast city include proposals that would lower the voting age in local elections to 16 and allow non-U.S. citizens to vote in local school board elections.

While nearly 20 policy initiatives seems extreme, the California record was not endanger this year, as 48 proposals appeared on the state ballot in 1914. 29 initiatives appeared on Golden State ballot as recently as 1988.


[Wall Street Journal] [CNN] [Photo courtesy AP/Rich Pedroncelli via Los Angeles Times]