While the vote for president is arguably the most important issue on the 2012 ballot, voters nationwide will decide on a number of other important local and state issues as well.
California, Florida, Massachusetts and Colorado are among several states with hot-button ballot measures and referendums that will be decided upon on Election Day. On one day, voters across the nation will help their states decide if they can smoke marijuana, legally assist in their own suicides and other divisive topics.
NewsOne has put together a short list of some of these local and state-level issues Americans will consider at the ballot box on Tuesday.
Issue: Abortion Restriction Amendment
The G.O.P swing state will vote on 11 constitutional amendments this November. However, Amendment 6, known as the “Abortion Amendment,” is the most controversial.
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According to Time.com, this initiative would prevent state and tax dollars from footing the bill for abortions except in cases of incest, rape and life endangerment if passed. It would also require minors to receive consent from their parents in order to terminate a pregnancy.
Opponents of Amendment 6 argue the initiative takes away a woman’s right—even that of minors– to choose and gives power to state politicians.
Issue: Physician-Assisted Suicide
In Gov. Mitt Romney’s hometown, voters will decide if the Question 2 Death with Dignity Act should be given the green light.
In a recent article by CBS.com Boston, if it is passed, it will allow doctors to prescribe medication to expedite someone’s death with the condition the patient is of sound mind and has been diagnosed with six months to live.
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The Roman Catholic Church—a powerful force in Massachusetts and stark opponent of the proposed law–believes the Act is morally and ethically wrong. Other opponents of the proposed argue a doctor’s prognosis that a patient has six months to live doesn’t mean that’s always the case.
If passed, Massachusetts would become the third state in the Union to legalize physician-assisted death. Washington voters approved a similar law in 2008 and so did Oregon in 1997. Physician-assisted deaths are illegal in 34 states.
Issue: Death Penalty Ban
The death penalty has always been a hot-button issue morally, ethically, and financially across the U.S. This November, California residents will vote on whether or not to ban it in their state.
Proposition 34, if passed, would abolish the death penalty and replace it with life in prison for convicted criminals without parole. As much as $100 million per year from funds that would alloted to death penalty cases would be re-purposed for investigate rape and murder cases. Inmates would work and pay restitution to the victims and their families under Prop 34.
Proponents of the death penalty ban have factored in the financial benefits. Since 1978, when the state reinstated the death penalty, California has executed about a dozen inmates and spent $4 billion. If overturned, the state could save about $130 million a year.
Opponents of Proposition 34 say overturning the ban would be a slap in the face to the victims and their families. California polling suggests voters won’t pass Proposition 34, despite how much money it could potentially save the state.
Issue: Legalizing Marijuana
In Colorado, voters will decide whether or not to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
Marijuana usage isn’t taboo for Colorado residents, who reportedly smoke almost two million ounces a year. Proponents of the law argue legalizing marijuana would result in an economic upswing for the battleground state, which is needed since law enforcement spends close to $40 million yearly trying to keep it off the streets.
However, the non-smokers believe legalizing marijuana would send a bad message to children.
Issues: Same-Sex Marriage
Maryland voters will decide if same-sex couples can legally marry in the state.
Question 6 or “The Same-Sex Marriage Referendum” as it is known, asks voters they want to affirm a law legalizing gay nuptials that Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley signed in March.
According to poll conducted by the Washington Post last month, the law may pass. Though a more recent one by the Baltimore Sun reports that voters are essentially split on the issue. The main reason, according to The Sun, is that Black voters who were either for same-sex marriage or unsure are now saying they will vote no on Question 6.
Same-sex marriage measures have been defeated in 32 states in the past. Two other states–Maine and Washington state–will also decide on same-sex marriage in their states. Minnesota has a measure on the ballot that would constitutionally ban same-sex marriage.
Just six states in the U.S.–New York, Vermont, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut along with Washington, D.C.,–have legalized marriage for same-sex couples.
What other state-level issues do you want to bring to the forefront? We want to hear from you!