Tuesday’s voting will not only determine control of the Senate, but the fate of important ballot initiatives in several states. Among them:
Ballot initiative aimed at ending or severely curtailing womens’ access to safe and legal abortion care will be contributing to the election night drama in three states: Colorado, North Dakota and Tennessee.
Colorado’s Amendment 67 is a repackaged but unimproved version of the absurd and unconstitutional “personhood” proposals that voters in the state overwhelming rejected in 2008 and 2010. Like the earlier iterations, it would confer on fertilized eggs legal rights and protections that apply to living individuals, making abortion criminal even in cases of rape or incest or to protect a woman’s health. It is opposed by both the Democratic and Republican candidates in Colorado’s hard-fought Senate race.
Another personhood measure, North Dakota’s Constitution Measure 1, stands a better chance of success. It would protect “the inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development.”
The Tennessee initiative backed by that state’s Republican governor, Bill Haslam, and many members of the Republican-dominated state government, also stands a decent chance. It states that nothing in the Tennessee Constitution “secures or protects a right to abortion” – potentially opening the floodgates for even more harsh abortion restrictions than the state already has.
“Time and time again when voters have understood what’s at stake they have overwhelmingly rejected these kinds of measures, even in conservative states like Mississippi and South Dakota,” noted Jennifer Dalven, the director of the A.C.L.U’s Reproductive Freedom Project. The results this round, she said, will turn on “getting out the word that the intent is the same: – to make it a crime for a woman to have an abortion.” – Dorothy Samuels
The lonely experiment in legalized recreational marijuana, so far waged by only two states, Colorado and Washington, may get bigger.
Residents of Alaska and Oregon will vote on whether to legalize recreational marijuana, and residents of Washington, D.C. will vote on whether to repeal criminal and civil penalties for personal possession and allow limited, private cultivation. Polling in Alaska is all over the place, the Oregon race is too close to call, and it looks like D.C. will go ahead and end prohibition.
The editorial board supports legalization generally and these ballot measures in particular. Decades of locking people up for using a drug less harmful than alcohol has done little or nothing to curtail consumption, while ruining the lives of those unlucky enough to get arrested. –Juliet Lapidos
The Minimum Wage
Polls suggest that voters in four red states – Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota – are expected to approve binding ballot measures that would raise the minimum wage in their states above the federal level of $7.25 an hour. Those votes should send a strong signal to Republicans who have bitterly opposed a Democratic proposal in Washington to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2016.
None of the measures would raise the minimum to the level advocated by Democrats in Congress, which, the editorial board has argued, is in itself not high enough relative to labor productivity and inflation. But these ballot initiatives are important nonetheless because they provide real-word evidence that a higher minimum wage has broad bipartisan support among voters.
If Republicans do take control of the Senate as most political pundits are predicting, the party would be smart to renege on the promise Senator Mitch McConnell, who hopes to become majority leader, made earlier this year to Republican donors that he would not schedule a vote on raising the minimum wage. –Vikas Bajaj
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