ImageBallot initiatives are being voted on in at least half the states, including Arizona, which is considering renewable energy and anti-tax measures.CreditCreditIlana Panich-Linsman for The New York TimesThere were not just candidates on the ballot this Election Day. Voters in more than half the states considered ballot initiatives on some of the most divisive issues in American life: voting rights, criminal justice reform, health care and environmental regulations, among others.Floridians restored voting rights to 1.5 million people who have been convicted of felonies but have completed their sentences. (Those convicted of murder or sexual offenses were excluded from the measure.) The initiative was one of several representing the bipartisan criminal justice reform movement, which has sputtered in Washington since the election of President Trump, but remains energetic in states and cities.Florida’s lifetime bans on voting and holding office for felons are considered some of the harshest in the nation. Former Gov. Charlie Crist had relaxed those rules, but the current governor, Rick Scott — now a candidate for Senate — ended Mr. Crist’s reforms in 2011.Here’s what else we’re watching across the country.[Follow election night coverage here.]Criminal Justice ReformOhio rejected a closely watched measure aimed at reducing the prison population by decreasing penalties for low-level drug crimes; the initiative was backed by influential progressive groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and Mark Zuckerberg’s philanthropy, with most of the state’s establishment Republicans in opposition.[Track races with our live election results.]Coloradans outlawed involuntary servitude as a punishment. In Louisiana, voters may overturn a Jim Crow-era law that allows split juries to decide felony trials, as long as 10 of the 12 jurors agree. And in Washington State, a ballot measure would require mental health and de-escalation training for police officers, in an effort to reduce officer-involved shootings.Six states are considering a broad initiative on victims’ rights called Marsy’s Law, named after a college student who was murdered in 1983. The proposal requires authorities to locate victims for even low-level crimes and allow them to be heard at court hearings. Supporters say the measure gives crime victims the rights they deserve, but even some prosecutors have said it may be too expensive and difficult to implement.Taxes, Education and Cost of LivingFlorida voters approved a measure that requires a two-thirds majority in the Legislature to enact new taxes and fees or raise existing ones. Similar laws across the country have led to reduced funding for schools — one of the factors that led to teacher walkouts in six states this year.There were defeats for education funding in two walkout states. Colorado rejected an attempt to raise taxes on the affluent in order to fund schools, and North Carolina lowered the top income tax rate.In a continuation of a trend from 2016, voters in two conservative states, Arkansas and Missouri, will consider raising the minimum wage, a policy that is often popular across party lines.And in California, where housing costs are the steepest in the nation, liberals were divided over two housing-related measures: one to raise corporate taxes in San Francisco in order to pay for services for the homeless, and another to overturn a state law that limits the ability of local governments to enact rent controls.[Ballot initiatives have shaped nearly every facet of life in California.]The EnvironmentA hugely expensive and deeply divisive fight in Washington State over whether to create the nation’s first carbon fee impassioned voters in a year when three of the state’s 10 seats in the House of Representatives were competitive. The measure, aimed at reducing climate change, would place a fee of $15 per ton of carbon emissions, with an increase of $2 a year; most of the revenue would be invested in renewable energy and air pollution reduction. Renewable energy initiatives were also on the ballot in Arizona and Nevada.Transgender RightsIn a vote seen as a test of a potential 2020 wedge issue, Massachusetts became the first state to consider a ballot measure targeting transgender rights. Voters rejected a referendum that would have repealed a 2016 law that prevents discrimination in public accommodations, including bathrooms and locker rooms, based on gender identity. That law easily passed the Democratic-controlled legislature.MarijuanaNorth Dakota and Michigan decided whether to become the first Midwestern states to legalize recreational marijuana. Nine states and the District of Columbia already allow adults to buy and possess marijuana in small amounts for recreational use. But in the two states voting Tuesday, the added wrinkle is that proposed marijuana taxes — potentially just a sales tax in North Dakota — would be among the lowest in the nation.States have wrestled with the question of whether higher taxes and thus higher marijuana prices would discourage use — along with raising more revenue — or simply ensure that the illegal market, with its cheaper prices, continues.Missouri voters legalized medical marijuana, joining 31 states and the District of Columbia that already allow medical use.Health CareVoting on Medicaid, the federal public health insurance program, is relatively new. Maine became the first state, last year, to expand coverage through the ballot. On Tuesday, four conservative states took up the issue — Idaho, Utah, Nebraska and Montana. In Idaho, Nebraska and Utah, the measures would bring an estimated 340,000 additional adults under Medicaid coverage; Montana’s measure would raise tobacco taxes to pay for, and continue, a Medicaid expansion that might otherwise expire.Abortion is a perennial focus for ballot measures. West Virginia and Alabama voters considered sweeping state constitutional amendments that would declare that women have no right to an abortion. The measures are priorities for religious conservatives, and could either prompt a Supreme Court case or pave the way for outright bans if the court were to overturn Roe v. Wade.Voting RightsAnother echo of America’s political divisions — whether to make voting and voter registration easier, or guard against possible improprieties with tighter requirements — played out on state ballots. Maryland voters decided whether to allow registration right up to Election Day, while North Carolina and Arkansas voters considered amending their state constitutions to require voters to present photo identification when casting ballots.Ballot measures in Nevada and Michigan would make registration automatic when renewing or applying for a driver’s license — unless a person opts out — and Michigan’s would also allow later registration and expansion of absentee voting.Sign Up for On Politics With Lisa LererA spotlight on the people reshaping our politics. A conversation with voters across the country. And a guiding hand through the endless news cycle, telling you what you really need to know.
Original Article can be found by clicking here