Results for the Country’s 30 Most Crucial Ballot Measures

Before Election Day, we took a look at 30 state ballot measures throughout the country that we thought could have a big impact. Now that the results are in, let’s see which big changes are now law, and which ones the voters put a stop to:

Same Sex Marriage

  • Maine Same-Sex Marriage Question (Question 1)
  • Maryland Same-Sex Civil Marriage Referendum (Question 6)
  • Minnesota Same-Sex Marriage Amendment (Amendment 1)
  • Washington Same-Sex Marriage Veto Referendum (Referendum 74)

The tides are turning! In close battles, Maine , Maryland, and Washington all voted to legalize same-sex marriage, marking the first occasions that states have granted these rights via popular vote. Meanwhile, in Minnesota, voters rejected an amendment to stipulate that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Genetically Modified Food

  • California Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food (Proposition 37)

Voters opted against having GMO foods labeled, thanks in large part to the money raised by the opposition. The food industry, led by Monsanto, spent more than five times the money raised by supporters of the “Right to Know” campaign.

Health Care

  • Alabama Health Care Amendment (Amendment 6)
  • Florida Health Care (Amendment 1)
  • Missouri Health Care Exchange Question (Proposition E)
  • Montana Health Care Measure (LR-122)
  • Wyoming Health Care Amendment (Constitutional Amendment A)

Five states put amendments on their ballots to attempt to prevent the government from providing them with health care. Though Florida turned it down, the other four states voted in favor to counter Obama’s health care plan. The votes are likely to only be symbolic, however, as they clash with federal law.

Owning All the Land and Water and Air

  • Arizona Declaration of State Sovereignty Amendment (Proposition 120)

A proposition on Arizona’s ballot asked voters to claim ownership of all of Arizona’s natural resources, like taking over the Grand Canyon and other federal parks. 2/3 of voters decided that it was as crazy as it sounded and rejected the idea.

Affirmative Action

  • Oklahoma Affirmative Action Band Amendment (Question 759)

Say goodbye to affirmative action in Oklahoma. The state will no longer be permitted to making hiring or educational decisions based upon race or gender in order to ensure diversity.

Marijuana Legalization

  • Colorado Marijuana Legalization Amendment (Amendment 64)
  • Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Initiative (Question 3)
  • Montana Medical Marijuana Veto Referendum (IR-124)
  • Oregon Cannabis Tax Act Initiative (Measure 80)
  • Washington Marijuana Legalization and Regulation (Initiative 502)

Smoke ‘em if you’ve got ‘em. Massachusetts legalized medical marijuana, while Montana restricted medicinal pot. And though Oregon turned down legalizing recreational marijuana, Colorado and Washington became the first two states in the nation to approve such a thing. It is unclear how the federal government will respond given this decision conflicts with federal law.


  • Florida Abortion (Amendment 6)
  • Montana Parental Notification Measure (LR-120)

Reproductive freedoms won one battle and lost another on Tuesday. Florida rejected an amendment to forbid government money from being used to fund abortions, but Montana largely approved a law wherein the parents of a minor must be informed before an abortion can be performed.

Teachers’ Unions

  • Idaho Teachers’ Collective Bargaining Veto Referendums (Propositions 1 and 2)
  • Michigan “Protect Our Jobs” Amendment (Proposal 2)
  • South Dakota Teachers’ Union Veto Referendum (Referred Law 16)

Idaho and Michigan voted against referendums that would help teachers’ unions to regain collective bargaining powers. On the other hand, South Dakota voters rejected legislation that the local teachers were largely not in favor of.

Gun Laws

  • Louisiana Right to Bear Arms (Amendment 2)

This one wasn’t even close. Louisiana voted 3:1 to grant additional rights to gun owners.

Assisted Suicide

  • Massachusetts “Death with Dignity” Initiative (Question 2)

Though the vote is too close to call without all of the votes in, it appears that voters will not approve of allowing terminally ill patients to end their suffering with assisted suicide.

Casinos and Gaming

  • Arkansas Casino Amendments (Issue 3 and 4)
  • Maryland Gaming Expansion (Question 7)
  • Oregon Privately-Owned Casinos Amendment (Measure 82)

Arkansas and Oregon each said, “Heck no!” to allowing casinos to come to their states, but Maryland narrowly approved expanding casinos on its turf.

Jim Crow Laws (Yes, Really)

  • Alabama Segregation Reference Ban Amendment (Amendment 4)

Alabama passed each of its 11 amendments EXCEPT for Amendment 4, which would remove references to racial segregation from its Constitution. 60% of Alabama voters thought the language, on the books since the era of Jim Crow laws, should remain intact. I don’t even know what else to say about that.

Death Penalty

  • California End the Death Penalty Initiative (Proposition 34)

Californians were asked whether to end the death penalty, thereby turning the sentences of 700+ Californians on death row automatically to life without parole. It was a fairly close vote, but California will not be banning the death penalty.


  • Maryland In-State Tuition Referendum (Question 4)

In a vote that will bolster the DREAM Act, Maryland residents agreed that undocumented immigrants should be able to pay in-state rates to attend local colleges and universities.


Related Stories:

Marriage Equality Wins Big at the Ballot!

30 Crucial Ballot Measures in 2012

California 2012: Some Victories, Some Defeats

Photo credit: thinkstock


W. C
W. Cabout a year ago

Thank you.

William C
William Cabout a year ago


Duane B.
.6 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Mitchell D.
Mitchell D6 years ago

This is a very useful article, putting all that info. in one place for perusal.
Alabama and Jim Crow? I've been to some of Alabama, have a New Jersey born and bred, adult son there. What Ive seen seems to be becoming nationally homogenized, with the same strip malls, fast food, etc. And, the people look like humans....

Sheri D.
Sheri D6 years ago

Thanks for all the detail in this article.

Susan Allen
SusanAWAY A6 years ago

I'm disappointed with CA. The death penalty is appalling on so many levels and GMO foods are scary as hell. I'm glad that CO and WA fully legalized marijuana. Marijuana should be legalized, taxed and, at the very least, sold much like alcohol which is a far worse drug. Glad same sex marriage amendments did well; that's one for the people and another blow to the religious right. Even a symbolic victory to deny the citizens of a state access to the health insurance exchanges just to "make a statement" is insane. This is why we, the people, need the federal government. And for the life of me, I can't understand why states keep screwing their teachers over and just how, why and when it happened that people now consider a labor union to be the scourge of the earth. It always amazes me when people vote against their own best interest and that of their children. And we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief that AZ can't own the Grand Canyon. Affirmative action gone in OK - duh, so shocked; same for AL with its Jim Crow language. I'm disappointed that the assisted suicide provision in MA didn't pass, but imagine the religious right won one. Expanded gun rights in LA, what a big shocking surprise. Not hugely opposed to what happened on the abortion front, but do hope there is some wiggle room on the parental notification under exigent circumstances. Glad MD stepped up to the plate to bolster the DREAM Act in its state.

Winn Adams
Winn Adams6 years ago

WA State has legalized same sex marriage!!!!!!!!!

Maureen Hawkins
Maureen Hawkins6 years ago

Marilyn, Do you think the parents of a minor who was raped by her father should be notified?

The removal of racial segregation references in the Alabama Constitution is more complicated than it looks. Apparently, changing the language would necessitate changing it in such a way that Alabama would no longer be obligated to provide public education at all. The African-American community opposed the referendum for that reason.

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L6 years ago

Sad that the death penalty will continue in Calfiornia. I have no objection to having parents be notified and give consent if a minor wants an abortion, afterall if they were having any other medical procedure the parents who have to sign consent forms.

There are other laws her that pass in the South that just proves racism is still alive and well there...sad and pathetic.

John B.
John B6 years ago

Thanks Kevin for the update. Some of the issues I thought would pass were defeated and some I thought be defeated were passed. and my average on picking the winners was OK but not that great.