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Longer Ballots Pose Many Questions

by Daniel C. Vock

Voters will be confronted with a near-record number of citizen-generated questions at the polling place Nov. 7.

The questions range from the politically explosive – such as whether to ban gay marriage and abortion – to the quirky, such as whether to let grocery stores in Massachusetts sell wine or whether an Arizona voter should be eligible to win a $1 million in a lottery just for voting.

The 81 questions that citizens put on the ballot this year, including five to repeal existing laws, is the third-highest number of issues brought by the public since initiatives were first used in 1902, according to the Initiative and Referendum Institute at the University of Southern California. State lawmakers put 123 questions for voters to consider, while a commission in Arizona did the job for state politicians by asking voters there whether to increase lawmakers’ salaries. All told, voters will decide 205 ballot measures Tuesday.

Among the 36 states to certify the ballot measures this fall, Arizona will have the heftiest ballot – with 19 ballot questions. The next longest list of ballot questions will be in Colorado (with 14 measures), California (13), South Dakota (11) and Nevada and Oregon (both with 10). Louisiana voters already weighed in on 13 ballot issues in the Sept. 13 primary and have another eight to consider in November.

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