How 2012’s Biggest Ballot Measures Played Out

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Last month, we took a look at 23 ballot measures worth watching in yesterday’s election, from same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization to a voter ID amendment and anti-Obamacare initiatives. Here’s a look at how those, and a few others, fared last night:

Same-sex marriage
For the first time ever, voters legalized same-sex marriage at the ballot box in Maryland, Maine, and Washington, as MoJo’s Kate Sheppard and Adam Serwer report. The night was a huge loss for antigay groups led by the National Organization for Marriage, which also saw a ballot measure in Minnesota for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage go down in flames.

Pot legalization
As Josh Harkinson reports, Colorado became the first state to legalize marijuana outright last night, followed an hour later by Washington. The question now is how far the federal government will go to crack down on the historic new laws. Another legalization measure in Oregon failed, in large part due to concerns that the law would have been overly broad. Meanwhile, voters legalized medical marijuana in Massachusetts but rejected it in Arkansas, and in Montana approved a measure that tightens restrictions on the state’s existing medical marijuana laws.

Abortion restrictions
In Florida, voters rejected a GOP-sponsored ballot measure that would have added an amendment to the state constitution banning public funding of abortions (even though no such funds currently exist) and eliminating privacy rights, which would have been a step toward requiring parental consent for minors seeking abortions. Montana voters did pass a measure requiring parental consent yesterday.

Voter ID
Despite some promising polls last month, supporters of a measure to enshrine a voter ID law in Minnesota’s constitution were defeated last night.

Money in politics
A wide majority of Montana voters approved an anti-Citizens United ballot measure proclaiming “that corporations are not entitled to constitutional rights because they are not human beings.” Colorado voters, meanwhile, passed a measure requesting that their congressional delegation support a constitutional amendment striking down CU. Neither measure has the force of law behind it. But an anti-union proposition in California fronting as a campaign finance reform measure was defeated.

Death penalty and three strikes
After an emotional campaign, a proposition to repeal the death penalty in California and commute at least 725 inmates’ sentences to life without parole was defeated. (No executions have been carried out in the state since 2006.) But Golden State voters did overwhelmingly support a measure to weaken the state’s harsh three-strikes law.

Obamacare protests
Alabama, Montana, and Wyoming voted to reject Obamacare’s insurance mandate, following the lead of what voters in Arizona, Missouri, and Oklahoma did in 2010. A similar measure this year in Florida failed. Missouri voters took their Obamacare protest one step further this year, approving a measure to prohibit the governor from setting up insurance exchanges unless voters or the state legislature approves. But none of the measures are anything but symbolic; states can’t override the insurance mandate, and if Missouri fails to set up the exchanges the federal government will just do it instead.

Collective bargaining
In Michigan, a preemptive effort to protect unions’ collective bargaining rights against a Scott Walker-style right-to-work law was soundly defeated.

Hostile takeovers
Also in Michigan, a referendum successfully overturned the state’s controversial emergency-manager law that had allowed the governor to appoint an official the unprecedented power to take over control of city governments’ budgets.

Grand Canyon ownership
Voters in Arizona rejected a ballot measure that would have declared the state’s “soverign and exclusive authority and jurisdiction over the air, water, public lands, minerals, wildlife and other natural resources within its boundaries.” The measure had led some to wonder whether Arizona was trying to take the Grand Canyon hostage.

And some others…
Florida rejected a ban on public funding for churches and religious schools. Oklahoma passed a state ban on affirmative action. Maryland affirmed the DREAM Act to allow undocument immigrants to attend public universities. Missouri rejected an increase on its lowest-in-the-nation tobacco tax but North Dakota affirmed a smoking ban in indoor workplaces. Oregon voters rejected a new non-tribal casino outside of Portland while Maryland voted to expand gambling. In California, voters affirmed $6 billion in tax increases supported by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown that supporters said marked a symbolic end to the state’s tax revolt of 1978. California voters also rejected a GMO-labeling proposition that has Tom Philpott wondering if it’s a sign of the defeat of the American food movement.


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