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Marijuana, health care on the ballot for some

From Robert Yoon, CNN
There are 160 ballot measures going before voters in 37 states on Tuesday.
There are 160 ballot measures going before voters in 37 states on Tuesday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Hot topics include votes on legalizing marijuana, opting out of health care
  • Voters in several states will consider measures that specify gun, hunting and fishing rights
  • Oklahoma has 11 ballot measures, more than any other state
  • Colorado once again considering amendment that would define personhood
RELATED TOPICS

(CNN) -- In addition to picking their local and state lawmakers, voters across the country will decide on dozens of ballot measures covering everything from marijuana to fishing rights.

There are 160 ballot measures going before voters in 37 states Tuesday. That's slightly more than the 2008 election, but down from 2006. Another 24 ballot measures were decided earlier this year during primary and special elections.

Of the items on the ballot, 42 are citizen initiatives (proposed new laws or constitutional amendments placed on the ballot by citizen petition); one is a popular referendum (a proposal to repeal an existing law, also placed on the ballot by citizen petition); three are mandatory votes on whether to hold a state constitutional convention; and 114 were placed on the ballots by state legislatures.

Oklahoma leads the pack with 11 ballot measures up for a vote on Election Day. Louisiana and Arizona each have 10. When including all 2008 ballot measures, including those held earlier this year, California will have a total of 14 for the year, followed by Louisiana with 12 and Arizona and Oregon with 11 each.

Here are some of the most controversial topics on the ballot:

Health care: In response to the health care law signed by President Obama this year, Arizona, Colorado and Oklahoma will consider measures that would change their state constitutions to prohibit individuals and businesses from being required to participate in a health care system.

Marijuana: California is considering legalizing marijuana possession for personal use. Arizona, Oregon and South Dakota are considering various measures legalizing or loosening restrictions on marijuana use for medical purposes.

Unions: Several states are considering amending their constitutions to require secret balloting for union elections. The measures are in response to the so-called card check initiative, a priority for organized labor that would allow workers to unionize without a secret vote.

Guns/hunting and fishing rights: Voters in several states (Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, South Carolina and Tennessee) will consider measures that specify gun, hunting and fishing rights.

Abortion (definition of "person"): Colorado is once again considering an amendment that would define personhood.

Explore all of the ballot measures

While some ballot measures have generated more buzz than others, each has passionate supporters behind it -- and opponents fighting to defeat it.

Here are some of the most notable measures, listed by state:

ARIZONA

Prop. 106: Ban on required health care system participation

This measure would amend the state constitution to prohibit any law that requires participation in any health care insurance system. It would allow individuals, businesses and health care providers to forgo health insurance and make private payment for health care services without a penalty.

Prop. 107: Affirmative action/discrimination ban

This measure would amend the state constitution to prohibit the state from granting preferential treatment to or discriminating against any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, skin color, ethnicity or national origin.

Prop. 109: Hunting and fishing

This measure would amend the state constitution to establish the right of citizens to hunt, fish and otherwise "harvest wildlife" in a lawful manner. It prohibits laws that unreasonably restrict these practices.

Prop. 113: Secret ballots and union elections

This measure would guarantee the right under state law to vote by secret ballot in elections, including those run by unions and employee organizations.

Prop. 203: Medical marijuana legalization

This measure would legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes for people with "debilitating medical conditions" who obtain written permission from a physician.

ARKANSAS

Issue 1 (SJR3): Hunting and fishing

This measure would establish a constitutional right to hunt and fish.

CALIFORNIA

Prop. 19: Marijuana legalization

This measure would legalize the cultivation, possession and transportation of marijuana for personal use by people age 21 and older.

Opinion: Why conservatives should favor legalizing marijuana

Majority of voters oppose Prop. 19, poll shows

Prop. 25: State budget

This measure would amend the state constitution to allow the state legislature to pass a budget with a simple majority vote, rather than requiring a two-thirds supermajority

COLORADO

Amendment 62: Abortion (definition of 'person')

This measure would amend the state constitution to define the term "person" to include "every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being." This definition would be applied to all aspects of the state constitution, including the provisions that ensure that no person has his life, liberty or property taken away without due process of law. Thus, the measure would essentially ban abortion. This is almost identical to a 2008 measure that defined a "person" as a human being from the moment of fertilization. That measure failed 27 to 73 percent.

Amendment 63: Ban on required health care system participation

This measure would amend the state constitution to prohibit any requirement by the state to participate in a public or private health care insurance system.

ILLLINOIS

Constitutional amendment (HJRCA 31): Gubernatorial recall

This measure would amend the state constitution and allow voters to recall a governor and to hold a special election to choose a replacement. In order for the measure to pass, the "yes" votes must reach at least 60 percent of those voting on this question or a majority of those voting in the overall election.

KANSAS

Question 1 (SCR 1611): Gun rights

This measure would amend the constitution and establish a right to keep and bear arms for any lawful purpose.

NEVADA

Question 4: Eminent domain

This measure would repeal and modify portions of the state constitution that prohibit the taking of private land for other private purposes. The measure would create certain exceptions to the ban.

A detailed explanation of the measure is available here.

OKLAHOMA

Question 756: Ban on required health care system participation

This measure would amend the state constitution to prohibit any requirement by the state to participate in a public or private health care insurance system.

RHODE ISLAND

Question 1: Rhode Island state name change

This measure would amend the official state name from "State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations" to simply "Rhode Island."

SOUTH CAROLINA

Amendment 1: Hunting and fishing

This measure modifies the state constitution to establish a right to hunt and fish.

Amendment 2: Secret ballots and union elections

This measure modifies the state constitution to establish the right of an individual to vote by secret ballot in union elections.

SOUTH DAKOTA

Constitutional Amendment K: Secret ballots and union elections

This measure would amend the state constitution to guarantee the right to vote by secret ballot in elections for public officials, ballot measures, and elections run by unions and employee organizations.

Initiated Measure 13: Medical marijuana legalization

This measure would legalize the possession, use, distribution and cultivation of marijuana for medical use

TENNESSEE

Constitutional amendment (SJR 30): Hunting and fishing

This measure would amend the state constitution and establish a right to hunt and fish, subject to reasonable regulations

UTAH

Constitutional Amendment A (HJR 8): Secret ballots and union elections

This measure would amend the state constitution to require the use of secret balloting for state and federal elections, as well as elections run by labor unions

Sources: National Conference on State Legislatures "2010 Ballot Measures: Pre-Election Overview;" Initiative & Referendum Institute at the University of Southern California "Election Preview."

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