This November, voters won’t just choose the next President of the United States, they will vote on referendums and state constitutional amendments that may determine the course of public policy in their states in a number of subject areas. Currently, 127 questions are certified for spots on 33 statewide ballots and 104 of them will be voted on in November. Here are ten of the most important policies that will be voted on in November:
1. Health Care in Alabama, Florida, Montana, Wyoming: Voters in four states, Alabama, Florida, Montana, and Wyoming will vote on whether to alter their state constitutions to essentially nullify the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to carry insurance or pay slightly more income taxes. Assuming the Supreme Court upholds the Constitution in the pending health care case, these amendments would have no lawful effect because a state cannot constitutionally block a federal law.
2. State Land Seizure in Arizona: Speaking of the unconstitutionality of nullification, Arizona’s voters will vote on an amendment that would declare state sovereignty “over the air, water, public lands, wildlife and other natural resources” within Arizona’s borders. The question, which was referred by the state legislature, is widely viewed as an unconstitutional effort to seize federal lands.
3. Abortion in Florida, Montana: Voters in Florida and Montana will decide whether they want to enshrine abortion restrictions in their state constitutions. Florida voters will vote on an amendment to prohibit the use of public funds for abortions except as required by federal law and to save the mother’s life, and stipulate that Florida’s constitution does not include broader rights to abortion than the US Constitution. Montana voters will vote on an amendment that would require parental notification prior to a minor’s abortion absent judicial waiver.
4. Marriage Equality in Maine, Maryland, Washington, Minnesota: Four states, Maine, Maryland, Washington, and Minnesota, have questions on their ballot that could decide whether gay couples enjoy their constitutional right to marry in those states. While voters in Maryland and Washington are asked to ratify state marriage equality laws, Minnesota voters will decide whether marriage should be defined as between one man and one woman in the state constitution. Additionally, Maine voters will have the opportunity to reverse an anti-gay ballot initiative from 2009.
5. Race in Oklahoma, Alabama: Oklahoma and Alabama both have questions on their November ballots concerning race. Oklahomans will vote on whether to ban affirmative action based on race or sex. Alabamans will decide whether racially charged language, referencing segregation in schools, should be removed from the state constitution. Voters defeated a similar measure in 2004 by .2%.
6. Capital Punishment in California: Voters in California will get a chance to end the death penalty in California. If the initiative succeeds, the 724 inmates on death row will have their sentences changed to life in prison without possibility of parole, and California will join the 17 states that have already halted the use of the death penalty. Given recent revelations about the serious problems inherent in utilizing the death penalty, including the risk of executing innocents, this initiative should receive special attention.
7. Guns in Louisiana: In Louisiana, voters will decide whether to alter the state constitution by adding the rights to acquire, transport, carry, transfer, and use firearms in addition to the existing right to keep and bear them. If the amendment is approved, it could be interpreted to gut current gun restrictions in Louisiana, including laws that ban guns on college campuses and in bars.
8. Immigration in Maryland: Maryland voters will decide whether to overturn legislation guaranteeing in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants, and Montana voters will decide the fate of an amendment that would require proof of citizenship in order to receive certain services, including a state permit or license and services for crime victims.
9. Voter IDs in Minnesota: Minnesota voters will face a question concerning voter IDs. If accepted by voters, the amendment would require all voters to show photo ID. Similar requirements in other states have been criticized, particularly for their disparate affects on minority voters and low-income voters. Elderly voters may also be uniquely burdened by photo ID requirements.
10. Religious Funding in Florida: Florida voters will decide with to repeal the “Blaine Amendment” which bans the use of public money on religious organizations. Opponents believe passage of the amendment would “virtually require taxpayer funding of religious activities.”