Ballot Measures—From Marriage to Marijuana—Drawing Young Voters’ Attention [LIVE UPDATES]
Thursday, 10:31 A.M.
Tobacco Tax To Fund Education Fails In Missouri
Voters in Missouri rejected Proposition B, dubbed the “tobacco tax," this week with 51 percent voting against the measure, a margin of just 42,581 votes. The proposition would have raised the state’s tobacco tax by 73 cents to fund three areas: half to fund K-12 public education and 30 percent would have funded postsecondary education; the remained 20 percent would have gone to smoking prevention and cessation programs.
Missouri has the lowest tobacco tax in the country, and the measure would have raised the tobacco tax from 17 cents to 90 cents per pack of cigarettes.
— Jen Hicks
Wednesday, 4:02 P.M.
Voters Pass Louisiana Gun Measure, Possibly Creating Challenges For College Campuses
Voters in Louisiana approved an amendment Tuesday that strengthens the rights of citizens to carry concealed weapons, a move that could have some implications for college campuses and other public spaces.
Amendment No. 2, which declares that "the right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental right and any restriction of that right requires the highest standard of review by a court," passed with strong support: 74.3 percent of the vote. The measure "also eliminates constitutional language specifically allowing the Legislature to regulate concealed weapons," according to the Times-Picayune.
Opponents of the amendment argued that it could "jeopardize the concealed-carry permit system, impair police work and call into question regulations that prohibit bringing weapons to certain locations and events."
Indeed, one professor said it could prevent colleges or universities from prohibiting students from carrying concealed weapons on campuses.
— Jen Hicks
Wednesday, 2:57 P.M.
Minn. Voters Reject Voter ID Law
Minnesota voters rejected an amendment Tuesday that would have required Ids to vote, similar to Voter ID laws advanced by conservative legislators across the country and designed to combat "voter fraud," a virtually non-existent issue.
Voters in the state rejected Amendment 2, which would have required voters to show a photo ID in order to vote in future elections, with 56 percent of supporters voting against the proposal.
Despite the claim that Voter ID laws are reportedly to combat voter fraud, little evidence of any such fraud exists. In fact, you're more likely ot be struck by lightning than to commit voter fraud. What's troubling, then, is that these laws threaten to disenfranchise millions of voters—disproportionately students, elderly, the poor, and minorities.
Young people made up a good share of voters in Minnesota on Tuesday: Exit polls indicate that voters aged 18-29 made up 20 percent of the Minnesota electorate.
Polls had previously indicated the Minnesota measure would pass. Read more about Voter ID laws at campusprogress.org/VoterID.
— Jen Hicks
Wednesday 1:23 P.M.
Colorado and Washington have become the first states to approve recreational marijuana, according to results on ballot measures Tuesday. In both states, numerous law enforcement officials backed the initiatives and the margin of victory was relatively large.
Medical marijuana laws were already in place in both Colorado and Washington. Now, anyone 21 or older may possess up to one ounce (28.5 grams) of marijuana for personal use.
The initiatives allow the states to tax marijuana sales at state-licensed stores similar to alcohol regulations. Analysts predict that the revenue generated from the tax would be significant. For instance, Colorado’s tax is estimated to generate between $5 million and $20 million a year and Washington analysts believe the tax could produce nearly $2 billion over five years.
Marijuana initiatives were also on the ballot in Oregon, Massachusetts, Arkansas, and Montana. Massachusetts voters were successful in approving medical marijuana, becoming the 18thstate in the country to do so. In Oregon, an initiative to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes failed, though the state does allow medical use. Arkansas voters rejected a medical marijuana measure and Montana voters decided to put more stringent restrictions on the medical marijuana law already in place.
Young people across the country played a major role in easing marijuana restrictions and are ultimately the force behind first successes of marijuana legalization. For example, earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control released a study that found American teens smoked more marijuana than cigarettes in 2011. Gallup also released a poll in 2011 in which 50 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana, the highest on record. The summary of the poll stated that, “support for legalizing marijuana is directly and inversely proportional to age, ranging from 62 percent approval among those 18 to 29 down to 31 percent among those 65 and older.”
As young people begin to make up a greater share of the electorate, continued relaxation of marijuana laws seems likely.
— Aaron Brennan
Wednesday, 1:08 P.M.
Voters in California sided with Gov. Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30, a tax hike on wealthy citizens to help resuscitate the state’s K-12 schools and public universities, which have struggled for funding. It was the first vote for a revenue increase in California in two decades, and young people were the ones to take the measure over the finish line.
The measure led late Tuesday night, 53-47 percent, with most precincts reporting. Previous analysis by the Public Policy Polling showed young people had favorable attitudes to taxing the wealthiest in the state to help fund education. Initial exit polls show that these same voters (ages 18-29) made up about 28 percent of the state’s electorate, significantly higher than the 19 percent share nationwide. That either matched or beat every other age group in California except for the 45 to 64-year-old bracket.
At a rally held just before midnight, Brown declared victory: “"I know a lot of people had some doubts and some questions: 'Can you really go to the people and ask them to vote for a tax?' Here we are. … We have a vote of the people, I think the only state in the country that says, 'Let's raise our taxes, for our kids, for our schools, and for our California dream.' ''
Proposition 30 will raise the state’s sales tax by a quarter of a cent for four years and increase income taxes for those making $250,000 or more by up to 3 percent for seven years. The measure is projected to raise an average of $6 billion dollars to fund mostly education this year.
— Naima Ramos-Chapman
Wednesday, 1:01 P.M.
Maryland voters made history on Tuesday, approving ballot measures on marriage equality and a state DREAM Act that indicate real changes in social attitudes on what have typically been controversial measures.
Unofficial counts this morning show a solid lead for upholding in-state tuition rates for certain undocumented immigrant students at public colleges and universities; the question was whether voters should repeal the state's S.B. 167, which gave undocumented students those benefits. With 96 percent of precincts reporting, 58.3 percent of voters were in favor of tuition equity while 41.7 precent voted to repeal the law.
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley praised the results while addressing a crowd of supporters at a victory party last night.
“All children will now be able to reach their potential because the people of our state have put a college education within their grasp,” O’Malley said.
Young voters made up 19 percent of the electorate in Maryland, which is comparable to young voters' share of the electorate nationwide, according to exit polls.
Millennial voters hold progressive views on immigrant rights, according to research by the Center for American Progress, our parent organization. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) say they support the federal DREAM Act, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented youth who complete some college or military service. And 57 percent of first-year college students said they don't believe undocumented immigrants should be denied access to public education.
Maryland is one of 13 states that allows undocumented students to access in-state tuition, and it is the first to approve a measure like this at the ballot box.
Controversial measures, like these state-based DREAM Acts, have failed numerous times at the polls in previous election cycles. But Tuesday was different: Not only did Maryland uphold tuition equity, voters there joined those in three other states—Maine, Minnesota, and Washington—in approving marriage rights for same-sex couples.
In Maryland, 52 percent of voters supported marriage equality by voting "Yes" on Question 6. This means same-sex couples will be allowed to legally marry there beginning on Jan. 1.
— Eduardo Garcia
Wednesday, 12:47 P.M.
Tuesday was a triumph for fairness in America. For the first time in this country, marriage equality was affirmed after being put to a public vote—and in more than one state.
Maine and Maryland both approved same-sex marriage by comfortable margins. Washington is projected to join them in making history, but many ballots remain to be counted and the tally is not yet official.
While Minnesota did not pass marriage equality, a proposed amendment that would have banned it failed—still a victory, given that it's the first state to reject such an amendment. Before now, voters in 32 states had taken every opportunity given to them to deprive LGBT people of their civil rights.
These victories would likely not have been possible without the participation of young voters. A majority of Millennials—62 percent—believe that gay Americans should have the right to marry the partner of their choice, and an increasing number of young people self-identify as LGBT.
What's more, young people increased their share of the electorate nationwide relative to 2008, up to 19 percent of voters from 18 percent. In Maryland, 19 percent of voters were between the ages of 18-29, and this age group accounted for 20 percent of voters in Minnesota and 22 percent of the Washington electorate, according to exit polls.
It's clear that Millennial voters are helping lead the march towards equality across America.
— Emily Crockett
Wednesday, 11:58 A.M.
Voters in Montana approved Referendum 121 (LR-121) on Tuesday, which denies state services to undocumented immigrants. The referendum requires undocumented immigrants to become citizens in order to receive state licenses, university admission and financial aid, crime victim services, and unemployment insurance.
“I don’t really want to live in a place that enacts discriminatory laws,” said Frances Moore, a student from Montana State University who opposed the ballot measure and protested against it at a student rally last week. “I want to be in a place that’s open and welcoming and embraces diversity.”
Nationwide, according to research by the Center for American Progress, 64 percent of young people support pro-immigrant legislation that provides a pathway to citizenship for undocumented youth, like the DREAM Act.
— Sydney Hofferth
Tuesday, 8:10 P.M.
Other Ballot Initiatives Young People Should Care About
Everybody is talking about pot and gay marriage, of course, but here are some other important ballot measures to keep your eye on tonight:
On the opposite side of the DREAM Act up for vote in Maryland, Montana's Referendum 121 would deny state-funded services such as drivers licenses, university admission, and financial aid to people without proof of citizenship. Students and human rights activists have urged opposition to the measure.
Louisiana's Amendment 2 would restrict the legislature's ability to pass gun control laws, to the point that universities with rules against guns on campus might be forced to allow weapons.
California's Prop 30 would ward off huge tuition increases by increasing taxes on the wealthy to fund public education. But with public support slipping in the polls, the youth vote will be crucial to passing the measure. Similarly, Missouri's Prop B would tax tobacco to fund education, with 20 percent of the tax going to support smoking cessation programs.
Oklahoma's Question 759, the Affirmative Action Ban Amendment, would do just what the name implies—prohibit employment or academic acceptance based on race, sex, or gender. An unscientific poll showed 70 percent support for the measure.
Tuesday, 7:07 P.M.
In Calif., Voters Weigh In On Higher Taxes To Fund Education
With just a few hours left to get out the vote in California, education advocacy groups are looking to students to turn out the vote to make change on some critical ballot initiatives in the state. One of those measures is Proposition 30, which would raise state sales tax by one-fourth of a cent for the next four years and increase income taxes for seven years for those who earn an annual income of more than $250,000.
Revenue generated from the proposition (estimated at $6 billion a year) would go to funding K-12 education and public universities. California Gov. Jerry Brown has been campaigning across the state to raise support for the measure.
Recent polls show that support for Prop 30 has been on the decline, though student organizers remain optimistic:
“We know if we keep getting students to the polls we can win on this issue,” said Sydney Fang, a student organizer at the University of California–Berkeley. “If Prop 30 doesn’t pass, we’ll have a 20 percent tuition hike effective in January, and an additional 15 percent every year until 2015. It will change how the university system adheres to its mission as public institution.”
According to a poll conducted by Public Policy Institute of California released last month, 7 out of 10 voters between the ages of 18 and 34 are in favor of Prop 30, emphasizing the importance of youth voter turnout on the measure.
“We’ve been getting students to all fifteen polling locations on our campus to make sure that folks are voting,” Fang said. “All across the University of California system, we’ve been circulating our progressive voter guide, and we’ve been making thousands of calls to students and other community members to get them to the polls. We want to make sure that folks are voting beyond the presidential contest.”
— Eduardo Garcia
Tuesday, 6:59 P.M.
Polls Show Minn. Voter ID Split
The latest polls show Minnesotans are split on a state constitutional amendment that would require government-issued IDs in future elections. Known for a robust democracy—the state is projected to turnout 3 million, or close to 80 percent of eligible voters—there's little doubt that this will be a close race.
Volunteers at theTakeAction Minnesota office in St. Paul have made more than 200,000 calls in the last three days, informing voters about the potential risks with Voter ID laws, which disenfranchise minority, elderly, and young voters most often.
Opponents say the measure will cost $50 million and make it difficult for people without ID to vote.
Tueday, 6:32 P.M.
In Michigan, Collective Bargaining Rights Up For Vote
Michigan's Proposal 2, the "Protect Our Jobs" Amendment, would enshrine the right to collective bargaining in the state's constitution. It has the support of a broad coalition of labor organizations, the Michigan Democratic Party, and many small businesses.
Prop 2 could well shape the fate of labor in Michigan: If it passes, it could protect public sector unions in particular from "right-to-work" laws and other anti-union legislation. If it fails, it could embolden conservative forces to pass more anti-bargaining measures like those seen in Wisconsin.
Opponents, including Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, have slammed the proposal as a step "back in time" that could lead to unlimited union wage increases at the taxpayer's expense. Prop 2 will also invalidate existing or future state or local laws that limit bargaining rights.
Business groups have blanketed Michigan with a $4.25 million ad blitz against the proposal, and the latest polls show a substantial 52.5 percent opposition to Prop 2.
But supporters, pointing to a favorable PPP straw poll and heavy morning turnout, remain hopeful.
— Emily Crockett
Tuesday, 6:16 P.M.
Professor: Gun Control Ballot Initiative Could Mean More Weapons On Campus, Too
Louisiana voters today will vote on a constitutional amendment that would loosen regulations on gun control. If the amendment is confirmed, the measure could hinder efforts by public colleges and universities to keep guns off campuses.
Dayne Sherman, an assistant professor of library sciences at Southeastern Louisiana University, penned an op-ed piece in the state's Daily Star suggesting that, if the amendment is approved, the courts could potentially strike down laws restricting concealed weapons on all public property including college campuses. He writes:
It allows all Louisiana gun laws to come under the “strict scrutiny” doctrine. For example, let’s say a Southeastern Louisiana University student decides he wants to carry his Glock to class, which is currently illegal, and he gets the National Rifle Association or some other group to file suit on his behalf for free. Well, if a state judge says the campus policy is a violation of Amendment No. 2, the policy is struck down.
According to the National Journal: "Young people, another pillar of the modern Democratic coalition, do not tilt as overwhelmingly toward the gun-control side, but are still more supportive than older generations."
— Naima Ramos-Chapman
Tuesday, 2:56 P.M
Minnesota Students Oppose Vague Voter ID Proposal
A ballot measure in Minnesota that calls for stricter voter ID laws in the state has caused concern among opponents of such legislation, who say that little thought has been given to the details of the proposed constitutional amendment, which could potentially disenfranchise student, veteran, and elderly voters.
Some of the main flaws in Minnesota’s proposal lie in its vague wording, which asks: “Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present valid photo ID to vote and to require the state to provide free identification to eligible voters, effective July 1, 2013?"
Because the details of the law are not stated in the ballot measure, the actual wording of the amendment would be left to the state legislature. But, like the fate of the proposal itself, the makeup of the legislature will be determined by the coming election. If supporters of strict voter ID laws take control, it would likely be written to be as restrictive as possible, while an amendment written by opponents would likely be far more relaxed.
Student leaders and faculty, including the University of Minnesota’s University Senate, have voiced their opposition to an amendment that would require photo ID. They fear that student IDs may be acceptable for voting for public school students but not for those at private schools, or that students with IDs listing their parents’ address and out-of-state students will not be able to vote.
Lost in the political battle over who would author the proposed amendment are the 215,000 Minnesotans who do not have valid ID. About 84,000 of these people have no ID at all, while the rest have ID that may or may not be acceptable for voting under the new legislation.
Voter fraud, which has only become a mainstream political issue in the last decade, is not taken seriously by experts, and Voter ID laws create barriers to representation that disproportionately affect minorities, the poor, and students.
A previous voter ID amendment in Minnesota was vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton.
— Kevin Jersey
Tuesday, 12:42 P.M.
Questions 4 and 6 on this year’s ballot in Maryland are poised to steal the spotlight from the presidential and senate contests today.
Question 4 asks voters whether they want to uphold in-state tuition for undocumented immigrant students, while Question 6 asks Marylanders to reconsider marriage rights for same-sex couples. Laws that approved both in-state tuition and same-sex marriage were approved by the state legislature last year.
If voters in the state act favorably on both of these issues it will make Maryland the first state in the country to uphold laws of this kind through the ballot initiative process.
University of Maryland student and GOTV volunteer Aaron Shapiro spoke with Campus Progress about how young people in his community are feeling about these ballot initiatives this year:
“It’s true that these [same-sex marriage and in-state tuition] have been getting a lot of attention from students. It’s exciting to see so much passion and excitement from young people about getting to the polls to make their voices heard.”
From his work in getting his peers to the polls, he says: “For the young people that I’ve been talking to, marriage is a non-issue. We’ve also seen coalitions raise awareness for rights of LGBT people and immigrants.”
[Read more about other LGBT-related initiatives across the state here.]
— Eduardo Garcia
Tuesday, 10:54 A.M.
State Ballot Initiatives That Depend On The Youth Vote
Most of the attention for the 2012 election has understandably been centered on the presidential election, but states head to the ballots on Tuesday to set policy on a number of other critical issues.
From same-sex marriage rights to legalizing marijuana, to funding education and deciding on whether or not to implement voter ID requirements, many issues have a huge impact on college students will their passage or defeat will depend on how young people vote.
Monday, 9:48 P.M.
Colorado 'Set To Legalize Marijuana' On Election Day, PPP Survey Says
"With just hours before polling places open for Election Day, advocates for the legalization of marijuana in Colorado got some good news from Public Policy Polling about the popularity of Amendment 64, a ballot measure which seeks to regulate marijuana like alcohol, on Monday.
According to PPP, 52 percent of voters support Amendment 64 while only 44 percent are opposed to the measure leaving the state "set to legalize marijuana tomorrow," PPP's Tom Jensen writes about the results of their latest survey.
Voters in Colorado, Oregon and Washington are all considering measures that would effectively end marijuana prohibition in their respective states. Marijuana legalization has become an issue that defies the stereotypes of party lines, garnering the support of key progressives and conservatives in Colorado, Washington and Oregon. And although all three states have pot initiatives on their ballots, Colorado and Washington's pot ballot measures appear to be quite popular with voters, according to recent polling."
Monday, 4:01 P.M.
Final Polls Suggest Minnesota Ban on Same-Sex Marriage Set to Fail
"Two final polls released in the final stretch before Minnesotans hit the polls this Tuesday, suggest that the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage is set to fail. The last Public Policy Polling survey shows 52 percent of Minnesotans are opposed to the ban on marriage equality, with only 45 percent in favor of the amendment. Another poll, Survey USA’s, also shows a slight lead in opposition to the ban on same-sex marriage 48-to-47 despite past polls often favoring those most likely to vote for the amendment. For the amendment to pass it must garner 50 percent of “yes” votes. If any voter skips the question on the ballot, it’s automatically counted as a “no” vote.”
Marriage Equality on the Ballot
"While past elections have stacked up far too many defeats for marriage equality, with same-sex marriage banned through ballot initiatives in 32 states over the last 15 years, the issue will again be in front of voters in states around the country this year and this time there is reason for optimism.
In just the last two years, LGBT activists have notched significant victories. In 2011, we saw the repeal of the military’s of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy and in 2012 the Democratic Party adding marriage equality to its platform.
Next week, we’ll see whether or not the victories and celebrations continue as voters in Maine, Maryland, and Washington will have the opportunity to legalize same-sex marriage and Minnesota voters will choose whether to ban it.
As these four states weigh their decision, national support for marriage equality continues to grow. And with more than 60 percent of Millennial voters in favor of extending the right to marry to same-sex couples, this is one issue that our generation will be watching closely and working hard to advance next Tuesday."
Monday, 3:45 P.M.
Campus Progress Coverage of Ballot Measures
For some Americans, going to the polls on Tuesday isn't only about picking which candidates would make the best leaders, but whether to usher in or deny changes in policy on issues that touch their daily lives. This year, these include questions on same sex-marriage, tuition equality, public college funding, voter ID, and the legalization of marijuana.
Whatever the outcome, these measures will largely be decided by Millennial voters, so throughout the day we'll bring you key updates on these ballot measures.
Continue to follow this page throughout Election Day for updates on state-based ballot measures.