The presidential race was only one item on the ballot on Nov. 6. Voters in 38 states also considered 174 statewide measures on issues ranging from same-sex marriage to legalizing marijuana, according to an analysis by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
The wide range of ballot measures broke down into 42 citizen initiatives and 12 popular referenda, 115 measures referred by state legislatures and five measures that fall into the “other” category. The total of ballot measures this year was higher than the 160 items in the 2010 mid term elections, because the 2012 ballot included more popular referenda and “other” measures.
However, voters approved fewer ballot measures this year than in years past, according to NCSL. Between 2000 and 2010, voters approved 45 percent of citizen initiatives, compared to 42.5 percent approval this year. Similarly, voters in 2000-2010 approved an average of 85.7 percent of state legislature-referred ballot measures, compared to 75.9 percent approval in 2012.
Some highlights of 2012 ballot measures:
- Voters in four states backed same-sex marriage. Maine, Washington and Maryland approved laws affirming the right of same-sex couples to marry, while Minnesota voters turned down a constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as between one man and one woman.
- Colorado and Washington approved measures to legalize and control recreational marijuana use. Voters in Oregon rejected a similar measure.
- California approved Proposition 30, increasing taxes on earnings over $250,000 and sales taxes by ¼ cent to help fund schools. The measure is expected to increase state tax revenues by about $6 billion annually through 2018-19. It will also head off education funding cuts planned for 2012-13.