Abortion, Marijuana, Statehood: Ballot Questions in Many States Cover Hot-Button Issues

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While most of the country will be focused on the race for the White House on election night, all politics, as they say, is local. Many states have presented voters with ballot questions this year. These initiatives could affect how their municipalities deal with such hot topics as abortion, marijuana, gerrymandering, and even Puerto Rican statehood. So here’s a look at the hottest issues on the ballot this Election Day.

Abortion

Louisiana Proposed Amendment No. 1 would prevent state courts from deeming abortion restrictions unconstitutional at the state level. Passage of the amendment would then lead to more restrictive abortion policy in the Bayou State.

Colorado Proposition 115 would ban abortions after week 22 of a woman’s pregnancy. It would allow abortions only in the case that the mother’s life is in danger. It would not, however, make it legal in instances of incest or rape. The law would also penalize doctors who perform abortions after 22 weeks.

Gig Economy

California Proposition 22 asks voters whether ride-hailing and delivery services should be allowed to treat their drivers as contract workers. If the proposition (which Uber and Lyft support) doesn’t pass, these companies would then have to treat drivers as full-time employees. That means giving them benefits like paid time off, minimum wage, and perhaps even health insurance. And that could make their business model unsustainable.

Marijuana

Arizona Prop 207 asks voters whether the state should legalize the cultivation, transfer and use of marijuana for recreational purposes.

Mississippi Initiative 65 would legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, as prescribed by a physician. Mississippi Initiative 65A, meanwhile, asks whether use of medicinal pot should be limited to the terminally ill, and gives the state legislature further power to regulate its use.

Montana Initiative 118 asks voters whether to amend the state constitution to make 21 the legal age for marijuana use. Meanwhile, Initiative 190 asks whether to make all use of marijuana legal in Montana, with a 20% sales tax.

New Jersey Public Question No. 1 asks voters whether to amend the state constitution to legalize personal and recreational use of marijuana for all residents aged 21 or older.

South Dakota Measure 26 asks whether to adopt a medicinal cannabis program for people with qualifying medical conditions. But South Dakota Amendment A asks whether to legalize cannabis for all adults and require state legislators to adopt medical cannabis and hemp laws.

Updated State Flag

Mississippi Ballot Measure 3 asks voters to approve a new state flag that was designed this year to replace the old banner, which featured a Confederate battle emblem. But if voters reject the new flag design, the process of seeking an alternative will begin.

Statehood for Puerto Rico

The Puerto Rico ballot question asks the commonwealth whether it should join the Union as a State. Even if it passes, it will be up to Congress to determine whether or not to admit the territory as a state.

Redistricting

Virginia Question 1 asks voters whether they approve of forming a commission of eight General Assembly members and eight citizens, placed in charge of drawing state and legislative districts. The General Assembly would then vote on whether or not to approve of the new map. Under current law, the General Assembly and the Governor draw the district maps. But many allege the current system leads to gerrymandering, a practice that allows political leaders to choose their own voters.

Ranked-Choice Voting

Alaska Ballot Measure No. 2 and Massachusetts Question 2 ask voters whether to adapt the process of ranked-choice voting. The process allows voters to rank their first, second, and third place choice of candidate when they cast their ballot. But if no candidate receives a majority of first-place votes, the candidate who received the lowest amount is eliminated. Then the second-place choice of his or her supporters is added to the tally.

Affirmative Action

California Proposition 16 asks voters whether to reinstate affirmative action, which became illegal in the state in 1996.

Voting Age

Finally, California Proposition 18 asks voters whether to lower the legal voting age to 17. If it passes, California would be the first state to enfranchise non-adults.

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