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Politics 2010: Ballot questions run gamut from A to Z

By NICOLE DEBEVEC, United Press International   |   Oct. 31, 2010 at 6:30 AM   |   Comments

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U.S. voters in many states Tuesday will give a thumb's up or thumb's down on issues running the alphabetical gamut from abortion- to zoological-related initiatives.

The 160 initiatives on ballots fall into basically five buckets: taxes, government administration, elections and campaigning, bonding and state budgets, Ballotpedia.org said.

While ballots overall have fewer social issues than recent years, one of the widely covered state questions is Proposition 19 in California, which would allow Californians who are 21 and older to grow and own marijuana subject to taxation, the ballot-dissecting Web site indicated.

California, with nine, has the most ballot issues, followed by Colorado and Washington each with six, the National Conference of State Legislatures' Web site indicated. Oregonians will vote on has four initiatives, while voters will consider three issues each in Florida, Massachusetts, Missouri and Montana.

Voters in Arizona, and South Dakota will be asked to weigh in on using marijuana for medical purposes, while Oregonians will be asked whether medical marijuana can be sold through dispensaries.

A measure on the Arizona ballot would bar mandatory participation in any healthcare system; voters in 2008 rejected a similar measure.

Other similar healthcare measures are on the ballots in Florida and Oklahoma. (Missouri considered a similar question on its primary ballot.)

An initiative in Colorado would amend the state constitution to apply the word "person" to human beings from conception.

A measure in California would temporarily suspend a 2006 bill mandating reductions in greenhouse gases until the state's unemployment rate is below 5.5 percent.

Many states are putting bonding questions and tax revision issues before their voters. Massachusetts is asking voters to eliminate the sales tax on alcohol in the state as well as lower the sales tax from 6.5 percent to 3 percent.

The Florida Legislature is asking voters to repeal the state's public campaign financing option for statewide candidates.

Term-limit questions are on two states' ballots. In New Mexico, an initiative would extend county official term limits. Oklahoma voters are being asked to approve term limits for statewide officials (legislators are already term-limited).

Oklahomans also will consider approving a requirement that voters provide a photo ID before receiving a ballot.

In Vermont, voters will vote on whether to allow 17-year-olds to vote in a primary election if they will turn 18 before the general election.

Illinois, still smarting over the impeachment of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, has a ballot measure that would allow voters to recall a governor. North Carolinians will be asked to approve a measure forbidding felons from running for sheriff. And Michigan wants to bar any officeholder convicted of a felony involving deceit and fraud while in office from holding public office for 20 years.

Voters in four states -- Arizona, Arkansas, South Carolina and Tennessee -- will consider whether to add the right to hunt and fish to their state constitutions.

A ballot question in Montana would abolish outfitter-sponsored big-game hunting. In North Dakota, a ballot question would make hunting captive exotic animals a class A misdemeanor.

The state of Washington wants to get out of the booze business, asking voters to allow state liquor stores to close and authorize spirit sales by private entities.

Oklahomans will be asked whether English will be the "common and unifying language" in the state.

The Oregon Legislature is asking voters to approve annual sessions instead of sessions conducted only in odd-numbered years.

With an eye cast on the decennial task of remapping representative districts, several states have redistricting-related measures on their ballots.

Alaska wants to pump up its Legislature, asking voters to increase the number of House seats by four and the number of Senate seats by two.

And Rhode Island wants to shorten its official name from "The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations" to simply "Rhode Island."

(Initiative summaries based on information on NCSL Web site, Ballotpedia.org and state election Web sites.)

© 2010 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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