Voters to Decide Hot-Button Ballot Issues

Affirmative Action

Affirmative action is being challenged in two states, Colorado and Nebraska. Voters in those states will be asked whether their governments should eliminate policies that give hiring preferences based on race or gender.

If passed, the measures would make exceptions for existing court orders, certain federal programs and other legally binding agreements.

Other Ballot Initiatives

Other measures appearing on ballots this Election Day range from a proposed limit on ballot measures to decriminalizing marijuana. Here are some of the other issues voters are set to decide:

An Arizona ballot measure would require that any new initiative that could raise taxes get approval from a majority of registered voters, not just those who vote. If it passes, it would mean that none of the recent initiatives in that state would have passed.

In California there is a proposal that would require cows, pigs, chickens and other farm animals to "be allowed, for the majority of the day, to fully extend their limbs or wings, lie down, stand up and turn around." The proposal, an attempt to treat farm animals humanely, would be costly for farmers. Even with a strong lobby from California's farmers, it is expected to pass overwhelmingly.

In South Carolina an initiative to amend its constitution to delete the provision that no unmarried women shall legally consent to sexual intercourse who have not reached the age of 14.

In Massachusetts, a proposed law would replace the criminal penalties for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana with a new system of civil penalties, to be enforced by issuing citations. It would exclude information regarding this civil offense from the state's criminal record information system.

Washington's Initiative 100 would allow terminally ill adults to obtain lethal prescriptions. Three other states in recent years -- Maine, Michigan and California -- have rejected similar measures.

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