In Tuesday’s General Election, voters in 41 states weighed in on over 140 ballot initiatives, including measures relating to abortion, gambling, and the legalization of marijuana. The following is a brief rundown of a few ballot initiatives worth noting:
Sanctity of Life: In a huge win for the pro-life movement, voters in Tennessee approved an amendment to the state constitution that gives lawmakers more power to regulate abortion. By a 52 to 47 percent margin, Tennesseans supported a constitutional amendment that states: “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.”
Voters in Colorado and North Dakota rejected “personhood” amendments that would have protected women and their unborn children. This was the third time Colorado citizens voted on a personhood amendment, and according to the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL), the 2014 vote “was the most favorable vote yet,” with about 35 percent of voters approving the measure, but 64 percent rejecting it. In North Dakota, voters rejected a similar measure by a similar vote margin that “would provide that the inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.”
Marijuana: The legalization of marijuana for medical or recreational purposes was on the ballot in several states, and drug legalization advocates are celebrating victories in Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia, which approved measures to legalize marijuana for recreational use. But in a major upset, Floridians narrowly rejected a measure that would have legalized “medical marijuana” in that state. The measure needed 60 percent of the vote to pass, but only received 57.6 percent of the vote.
Gambling: Eight states voted on measures to either expand or scale back gambling: Colorado, South Dakota, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Rhode Island, California, and Massachusetts. In a setback to the gambling industry, voters in Colorado overwhelmingly rejected a measure that would have allowed casino gambling at horse race tracks in three counties. Additionally, voters in Rhode Island (where there were several gambling measures on the ballot) approved a measure that would prohibit a casino from relocating in the state without local voter approval. Meanwhile, voters in California rejected a “veto referendum” that would have ratified a tribal gambling compact the state legislature had previously negotiated with an Indian tribe.
However, gambling proponents were victorious on six other ballot questions, especially in Massachusetts, where voters rejected a measure to repeal casino gambling in the state. Additionally, voters in California said no to a measure to overturn the state’s Indian gambling compact that allows a tribal casino in Central Valley, while voters in Rhode Island voted in favor of allowing table games at the Newport Grand Casino, and voters in South Dakota said yes to allowing craps, roulette and keno table games in its one casino. Meanwhile, voters in South Carolina and Kansas approved measures allowing “charitable raffles” for nonprofits, while Tennessee voters said yes to a measure that authorizes the state legislature to enact legislation to allow charities and nonprofits to hold annual lotteries.