More than the Presidency: big ballot issues to watch tonight

America is going to the polls today, but it’s more than just the question of who will be our next commander-in-chief. There are 35 Senate elections (several of which are close), the whole House of Representatives, 11 governors… and countless state constitutional and referendum measures. In California, there are 12 propositions on topics ranging from gay marriage to high speed-rail to the rights of pregnant pigs to bonds for alternative fuel vehicles and renewable energy. Read Reason’s California Voters Guide for information on all propositions and see studies and reports on our home page for more detail. Across the country voters are facing decisions on similar issues. Gay marriage is also on the ballot in Arizona and Florida. Arkansas, which already has banned gay marriage, is seeking to further take rights from gay couples by banning their right to adopt. Missouri will also consider legislation on renewable energy (along with a measure making English the state’s official language), as will Colorado. Colorado actually has 17 motions on amending its constitution and law, the most in the nation, which also include raising taxes on oil and gas companies to help fund college scholarships. And the price at the pump goes up… Colorado quite literally has a motion to amend their state constitution to define the word “person”… yes, they want to make sure the constitution clarifies what a human being is, after all, there is the question aren’t animals people too? The notion becomes a little less ridiculous when you read on to find the Colorado amendment wants to define a person to “include any human being from the moment of fertilization” and you realize it’s a back door attack on abortion. South Dakota residents will be voting on a measure to ban abortion all together in their state, which would force the Supreme Court to revisit Roe v. Wade. Massachusetts wants to repeal the right to bet on dog racing. Bonds are big deal on state ballots this year too. All in all there is $18.3 trillion in proposed spending increases through bond initiatives across eight states. And this doesn’t include bond measures from municipalities. In Arlington, VA, residents were asked to approve $10 million for subway renovations, $10.8 million for new County facilities, $50 million for building out a wastewater plant, and $99,425,000 for “various capital projects and land for Arlington County public school and community purposes.” For many voters, these are the reasons to go to the polls, particularly those in non-swing states in the Presidential election. For others these measures are a lengthy, boorish processes if they didn’t study up a head of time. States with long ballots include California and Oregon with 12 questions in each state, New Mexico, with nine questions, Arizona, with eight questions, and South Dakota and Louisiana, each with seven questions. To see an exhaustive list of ballot initiatives, check out the National Conference of State Legislatures’ website.