The presidential race is getting all the attention in the Election 2012 coverage, but there are several state ballot issues that are worth taking a closer look at.
Even if the issues don't apply to your state, some of these important ballot measures could end up on your state ballot in the next election -- especially if they pass.
Here are just a few of the most closely watched issues:
- Legalizing marijuana. A significant number of states have already legalized medical marijuana, but Colorado, Washington, and Oregon are considering measures that would legalize marijuana for recreational use as well. If passed, the laws could generate extra revenue from the sale and taxation of pot, but they could also lead to some complications with existing federal law.
- Gay marriage. This issue has been on state ballots (and in courts) continually over the last few years, and a few more states are considering it on Tuesday. Voters in Maryland, Maine, Washington, and Minnesota will all have to decide whether they are in favor of or against gay marriage.
- Death penalty. Capital punishment is still an option in 34 states, but a California ballot measure asks voters whether or not to get rid of it. If the measure succeeds, California will be the 18th state to ban the death penalty, reports ABC News.
- Doctor-assisted suicide. Proponents of a Massachusetts measure that would allow doctors to prescribe a lethal dose of medication to terminally-ill patients call it "death with dignity." But opponents say the measure doesn't have enough safeguards to avoid abuse.
- Segregation language. When the U.S. Supreme Court banned school segregation, Alabama added a line to its state constitution requiring that students attend schools "provided for their own race." The language was invalidated by a federal court, but it remains in the state constitution, reports the Associated Press. More than 50 years later, Alabamans will vote on whether the unenforced provision should stay or go.
- Gambling. The majority of states don't allow gambling except on Native American lands, which are considered separate from state property. But there's money to be made in running casinos, and Oregon is looking to get a share of that. If voters agree, the ban on casinos in the state will be lifted, according to BBC News Magazine.
- Labeling genetically modified food. Concerned about what they're eating, Californians will have a chance to vote on whether companies should have to label genetically modified (GM) foods and foods that contain GM products. It's often said that "as California goes, so goes the nation," so if this measure passes, you might start to see the labels in your state as well.