The Most Controversial Ballot Measures That Could Affect You

Monday, November 3, 2014
The Most Controversial Ballot Measures That Could Affect You
Adam Eidinger, chairman of the DC Cannabis Campaign, works on posters encouraging people to vote yes on DC Ballot Initiative 71 to legalize small amounts of marijuana for personal use, in Washington. in this, Oct. 9, 2014, file photo.

Controversial and emotional issues are on ballots in states and the outcome of those votes - ranging from "personhood" for the unborn, pot laws and gun control - could have significant ramifications.

Here's a look at some of the top ballot measures this Election Day:


Initiatives in Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia would legalize the use and possession of set amounts of marijuana. Pot is already decriminalized in all three states/districts. The measures have drawn some big names in support of a "yes" vote: Snoop Dogg has promised to play a "wellness retreat concert" in Alaska if they pass the measure, and travel guru Rick Steves has been touring Oregon in support of that state's initiative. Florida is also considering a medical marijuana bill that would legalize its use for debilitating diseases as determined by a licensed Florida physician. But that bill is a constitutional amendment and would require 60 percent plus one of the votes to pass.


Voters in Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota will be able to vote on whether their state should raise its minimum wage. The minumum wage in those four states currently hover between $6.25 and $7.75, while the federal minimum wage is $7.25. While increasing the minimum wage tends to be a popular move with voters, some experts say putting these questions on ballots in traditionally red states is less about the wages and more about getting Democrats to the polls who might otherwise stay home during a midterm.


Colorado is the latest in a string of states to decide whether to grant unborn fetuses the same legal rights as born human beings, adding to the definition of "person" in the Colorado criminal code an "unborn human being." Republican Senate candidate Cory Gardner has supported a federal version of this law, but he has said he opposes the state effort.


Two measures on gun control which are diametrically opposed to each other are on the Washington State ballot: one which would strengthen background check laws in the state and one that would prevent such strengthening unless a federal law was implemented. While the pro-background check measure, I-594, is polling better than the anti-background check one, I-591, if both pass neither side says it knows what will happen. Some state experts say it will have to be re-litigated in the state Supreme Court.

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