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State Ballot Measures to Watch

STAMFORD, CONNECTICUT - AUGUST 11: A woman drops her Connecticut 2020 presidential primary ballot at a secure ballot drop box at a Stamford library on August 11, 2020 in Stamford, Connecticut. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed an executive order allowing all registered voters to vote absentee in the August 11, 2020 primary. Connecticut has also experienced fallout from the recent tropical storm, which knocked out power to half of the state at its peak. President Trump has been critical of the absentee ballot process saying it contributes to voter fraud.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
By Ashley Ravid on October 21, 2020 1:12 PM

The 2020 presidential election is seeing plenty of news coverage and discussion, but one lesser spoken-about part of voting are the individual ballot measures unique to every state. Many citizens are voting to revise election practices, government term limits, taxes, and more. Here are some notable ballot measures you may not have heard about.

Feeling Lucky?

Voters in Colorado, South Dakota, Maryland, and Nebraska are voting to expand legal allowances of gambling and/or sports betting. Some parishes in Louisiana also have the option to vote for legalizing sports betting.

Firearms Laws

In Alabama, voters will see the option to approve a "stand your ground" law applying to people in churches.

Measure LR-130 allows Montana voters to decide whether they want to remove certain concealed-carry regulatory powers from local governments.

Abortion Regulations

Colorado voters will be able to vote on outlawing abortions after 22 weeks of gestation.

Louisiana ballots will feature a proposed amendment to the state constitution which would explicitly state that the constitution does not grant the right to abortions or abortion funding.

Cali the Uber

Proposition 22 in California is this year's most expensive ballot proposal as well as California's costliest to date. If passed, state law would classify rideshare and food delivery app drivers like those who work for Uber and Lyft as independent contractors instead of employees. Uber, Instacart, DoorDash and more have spent over $188 million in lobbying for a yes vote because contractors do not receive full employee benefits.

If California voters do not pass 22, gig workers will be entitled to employee benefits like a guaranteed minimum wage, sick pay, and overtime.

With 12 propositions, California has the most ballot measures of any state. California voters will also vote on allowing some 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections, ending cash bail, restoring voting rights to parolees, and more.

Tobacco Taxes

Colorado ballots will include a measure to increase taxes on sales of tobacco and e-cigarettes, with the funds going to education.

Oregon is also proposing steep increases in tobacco and e-cigarette taxes, though those funds will go to medical programs.

Oklahoma voters will choose whether they wish to distribute tobacco settlement money to the legislature for state Medicaid funding.

Going Green

Several states are voting to legalize medical and/or recreational cannabis use. Though marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, legalizing its use is generally left up to the individual discretion of states, with the age of use generally being 21.

Mississippi and South Dakota voters will have the option to legalize medical cannabis use. South Dakota ballots also will feature a measure to legalize recreational marijuana use, making South Dakota the first state to feature both legalization questions on the same ballot.

Arizona, Montana, and New Jersey are also voting on whether to legalize recreational marijuana.

Drug Reform

In 1973 Oregon became the first state to decriminalize cannabis. The state, which has permitted medical cannabis use since 1998 and recreational use since 2014, will now vote on legalizing the use of psilocybin mushrooms, also known as "magic mushrooms," to treat mental illness. Users would be prescribed and take the mushrooms at licensed facilities with certified practitioners.

Another ballot measure proposes decriminalizing possession of small amounts of drugs including cocaine and heroin and expanding addiction treatment services using marijuana tax money.

Unique and Noteworthy

Some of the more unusual ballot measures seen in 2020 are:

  • Florida residents will vote on increasing state minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2026
  • A vote to establish the constitutional right of Utah residents to hunt and fish in Utah
  • Nebraska citizens will vote to remove state constitutional phrasing which currently allows courts to sentence criminals to "involuntary servitude" as punishment

Though it is not a state and its residents, despite being U.S. citizens, cannot vote in the presidential election, Puerto Rico's gubernatorial election will also take place on November 3. The ballot will include a referendum on U.S. statehood.

If you or someone you know is planning on voting in the 2020 election, researching your state's ballot measures online ahead of time can help you make more informed choices.

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