Around the Nation: Ballots to Watch

November 6th is not only election day for state and federal candidates, it is also the date when citizens will consider numerous state ballot issues. A look across the country shows a wide variety of initiatives, referendums and constitutional amendments to be decided by the voters.

They include:

Same-sex marriage: Four states (Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington) will have proposals to define if marriage should be between one man and one woman or whether same sex partners can legally marry.

Death penalty: Voters in California will decide whether to end the death penalty in their state and replace it with life without parole.

Abortion funding: Florida residents will decide on a constitutional amendment that would prohibit public funds to be used for abortions except as required by law and to save the life of the mother.

Dream Act/Immigrants:  Maryland voters will decide whether to uphold a law allowing undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition at Maryland colleges if they meet certain requirements.

Assisted suicide: The Massachusetts ballot will have a “Death with Dignity” initiative that would allow terminally ill patients to receive lethal drugs if the diagnosis is confirmed by two doctors.

Religious freedom: This measure in Florida would remove the constitutional state ban on public dollars for religious funding, known as the Blaine Amendment.

Marijuana use: Several states (Arkansas, Colorado, Massachusetts, Montana, and Oregon) will have measures to control the production of marijuana or to allow its legal use for medical purposes.

Smoking ban: The residents of North Dakota will decide whether to enact a statewide smoking ban on all in-door workplaces.

Finally on the lighter side, the voters in Wyoming, Nebraska, Kentucky, and Idaho will decide whether to approve constitutional amendments that protect the right of citizens to hunt and fish in those states.

Regardless of the nature of the proposals, ballot issues can generate tremendous interest and impact voter turnout that can help or hurt candidates running for office.

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