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South Carolina, South Dakota vote for lotteries

School vouchers fail in Michigan and California; 'gun show loophole' closed in Colorado


In this story:

Education

Taxes

Marijuana

Gun control

Gay rights

Tobacco money

Other issues

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(CNN) -- South Carolina voters agreed Tuesday to lift a ban on lotteries. The vote will allow the state to establish a lottery and put part of the proceeds into a state-run "Education Lottery Account." The measure was among the most hotly contested and closely watched races in South Carolina.

The leading proponent was Democratic Gov. Jim Hodges, who used the issue in 1998 to defeat the Republican incumbent, David Beasley.

A number of state Democrats joined Hodges in pushing the measure. Religious leaders and Republicans opposed the lottery.

Voters in South Dakota rejected a ballot measure to prohibit video lottery in the state, and that would have repealed all video lottery laws.

Across the country, measures on state ballots covered a gamut of issues that voters have seen in the past. They included gambling, gun control, marijuana, drug use and treatment, gay rights and taxes.

graphic

While no ballot measure attracted much national attention this election year, individual issues in some states were expected to draw voters to the polls.

Political observers said the drawing power of some issues likely would have at least some effect on the close presidential race, where a difference of even a few thousand voters could have implications in the tight Electoral College vote for Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

"Some ballot measures in presidential race swing states will attract underperforming and new voters to the polls this November," said Amy Pritchard, president of the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, a Washington organization that helps groups develop ballot measure drives.

"Conservative and right-wing issues will likely attract more Bush supporters to the polls, while liberal and progressive measures may boost turnout among Gore supporters," she said. "Some may even increase turnout for third-party candidates."

Here are some of the major issues that appeared on state ballots Tuesday.

Education

Education
 

In California and Michigan, voters rejected measures that would have provided vouchers for students to attend private schools.

Proponents of vouchers have never won a statewide referendum anywhere in the nation.

California's measure would have provided parents with $4,000 for each child. The voucher could have been spent to send children to private schools regardless of family income or circumstance.

In Michigan, the proposal had the backing of Amway founder Dick DeVos. Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper was a major supporter of vouchers in California.

Opponents in California included a coalition of unions, local governments and education groups. Opponents in Michigan included teachers' unions.

Also on the education front, Washington voters considered an initiative that would authorize school districts and public universities to sponsor charter schools.

In Arizona, voters appeared ready to eliminate bilingual education. The state has a large and growing Hispanic population.

Taxes

Taxes
 

In Massachusetts, voters approved an initiative to reduce state income taxes from 5.95 percent to 5 percent by 2003. The measure was backed by Republican Gov. Paul Cellucci and was opposed by Democratic leaders and state labor unions.

On the ballot in Oregon was a measure to allow federal income taxes to be deducted from state income taxes. Washington had a measure to nullify some 1999 tax increases of more than 2 percent.

Marijuana

In Alaska, voters by a wide margin rejected a measure that would have decriminalized marijuana and offered amnesty to those with marijuana convictions.

Colorado voters decided to legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Nevada voters considered whether the use of marijuana to treat medical ailments should be legal.

Gun control

Harking back to the mass shooting at Columbine High School, Colorado voters decided that people who buy a gun at a gun show should undergo a background check.

The initiative to amend the state constitution began soon after two Columbine students raided the school in 1999 armed with an assortment of guns and homemade bombs. The massacre at the Littleton, Colorado, school left 15 dead including the two gunmen.

Oregonians also considered a similar ballot measure. Legislative efforts to pass a law requiring such background checks have been unsuccessful in both states.

Gay rights

In Maine, voters narrowly rejected a measure which would have protected homosexuals from discrimination.

Voters in Nebraska approved a state constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriages. The measure was expected to become part of the state constitution by mid-December.

Nevadans approved an initiative that gives constitutional status to the state's statutory definition of marriage as the exclusive union between a man and a woman.

Supporters included the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage, an umbrella group of conservative Christian organizations. The Mormon Church was the single largest supporter of the initiative, raising more than $750,000 for the campaign.

Opponents included gay and lesbian civil rights activists. They collected little in the way of advertising support, but they were aided by a strong grassroots effort from local university activists and other civil rights supporters.

In Oregon, voters considered a measure that would prohibit school instruction that encourages, promotes or sanctions homosexual or bisexual behavior.

Tobacco money

Ballots in five states -- Arizona, Arkansas, Montana, Oklahoma and Oregon -- contained measures proposing methods for dividing proceeds from a sweeping tobacco settlement.

Other issues

Voters also considered a variety of other issues:

  • Alabama voters repealed a century-old ban against interracial marriage.
  • In New Jersey, voters decided to amend the state constitution to allow the legislature to publicly disclose information about people who have committed sex crimes.
  • Measures designed to control urban sprawl appeared to be going down to defeat in Arizona and Colorado.
  • Maine voters considered a measure to free doctors of criminal liability if they help a terminally ill patient end his or her life.
  • Massachusetts voters considered a measure that proposed providing universal health insurance for all state residents by 2002.


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