What Else Americans Are Voting for Today

Heavy truck traffic goes both ways on the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit. A Michigan ballot proposal says voters must approve any international bridge or border crossing to Canada Photograph by Greg Ruffing/Redux

Besides deciding who should be elected president, citizens in 38 states will weigh in on 174 ballot measures. This year, there are more popular referenda—measures that would veto bills recently passed by state legislatures—than in any year since 1920. Here’s a guide to the some of the new and noteworthy changes Americans are considering today.

—The right to organize: It would be added to Michigan’s constitution under a ballot proposal pushed by organized labor. The measure is a reaction to Republican Governor Rick Snyder’s efforts to roll back organizing rights in certain cities.

—Teacher pay: In Idaho and South Dakota, teacher’s unions are pushing back against state legislatures with popular referenda that would prohibit lawmakers from phasing out teacher tenure, allowing parents to have a say in teacher evaluations, and creating a statewide system for grading teachers. Idaho voters also have competing measures, opposed by teacher’s unions, to consider a merit pay plan that would give teachers bonuses for boosting test scores and a program to give every high school student a laptop.

—Pot: Three states—Oregon, Washington, and Colorado—are voting to legalize marijuana for recreational use. If the measures pass, residents will have retiring Representative Ron Paul (R-Tex.) to thank.

—Gay marriage: Through popular referenda, conservatives in Maryland and Washington are seeking to overturn laws that allow same-sex marriage. In Maine, voters will be asked to legalize same-sex marriage. That question has never been posed to a state’s voters before, says Jennie Drage Bowser, who tracks ballot initiatives for the National Conference of State Legislatures.

—Bridge to Canada: This proposal says that Michigan voters must approve any international bridge or border crossing to Canada. It’s an uncommon initiative, Bowser says, because it would ultimately benefit one company: Manuel “Matty” Moroun’s CenTra owns the Detroit International Bridge, a toll span that’s currently the only connector between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. Those cities want to build a new bridge, which could leave Moroun with fewer customers. The ballot measure would make it more difficult to get that rival bridge built. To push it, Moroun has spent millions on ads through a group called “The People Should Decide.”

—Obamacare: Missouri voters will weigh whether to allow the legislature to block the creation of an insurance exchange, the market through which those currently uninsured will get coverage under Obamacare. Florida voters will decide whether they should amend their state’s constitution so citizens wont be required to buy health insurance, a clear rebuke to the Obamacare mandate.

—Redistricting: Voters in both Maryland and California face popular referenda to overturn the states’ recent redistricting. What happens if voters veto the current legislative boundaries, while at the same time electing lawmakers today based on them? “It’s still unclear,” says Bowser. “This has never been done before.”

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