Voters in US states have their say on marijuana, gun control, abortion access and voting rights

Ballot initiatives give unfiltered glimpse into voters’ stances on some of the country’s most polarising issues

Voters in Maryland and Missouri approved ballot measures on Tuesday to legalise recreational marijuana, adding those states to a list that has swollen in recent years. But similar efforts were also shot down in Arkansas, South Dakota and North Dakota – a mixed result that underscored the varying public attitudes over marijuana use.

Those measures were among the many initiatives that appeared on ballots across the US – an exercise in direct democracy that has offered an unfiltered glimpse into voters’ stances on some of the most pressing and polarising issues, including voting rights, gun restrictions and abortion access.

Measures related to voting were under consideration in several states, with some pursuing restrictions meant to bolster election security and others pushing to expand and protect access amid fears of a concerted campaign to weaken the country’s election systems. Many of these measures could be traced to former president Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 defeat and mobilise his supporters by spreading baseless claims of a stolen election.

Voters in Ohio approved an initiative aimed at thwarting any attempt to allow people who are not US citizens from voting in local elections. The proposal was meant to counter efforts elsewhere, including in New York City, to allow permanent legal residents and people authorised to work in the United States to vote in city-level races. A similar proposal is up for a vote in Louisiana on a December 10th ballot.


In Nebraska, roughly two-thirds of voters supported a measure to require photo identification to vote. Voters in Michigan supported adding measures to the state constitution, including opening polls for early voting, meant to make it easier to cast ballots. In Connecticut, a measure to allow in-person early voting was passed.

Arkansas voters rejected an initiative that would have raised the threshold for passing a ballot measure or constitutional amendment to a three-fifths supermajority from a simple majority.

In Iowa, voters, by a wide margin, supported an initiative enshrining gun rights in an amendment to the state constitution that declares that residents’ ability “to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”.

Voters in Tennessee, Oregon and Vermont supported ballot measures that remove language allowing slavery as punishment from their state constitutions. In Alabama, more than three-quarters of voters endorsed changes to the state constitution that removed outdated and racist language, including language related to slavery.

But in Louisiana, nearly two-thirds of voters rejected a proposal that would have removed language from the state constitution allowing slavery as punishment.

These measures to forbid slavery or involuntary servitude as punishment have gained traction in recent years, creating an opening for prisoners to challenge the practice of forced labour for which they are paid pennies per hour or nothing at all.

– This article originally appeared in the New York Times.