11/06/2012 05:18 EST | Updated 01/06/2013 05:12 EST

Gay marriage, pot use among 176 questions facing U.S. voters

On election day, many Americans will face more choices on their ballots than simply who they want as their president and their member of Congress. Voters in 38 states are also being asked a total of 176 questions.

Many of the questions deal with fiscal issues, such as state tax measures, the minimum wage or bond issues. Voters in Michigan, for example, are being asked to approve that any future bridge or tunnel to Canada must be approved by the public before state funds could be advanced.

But it is the ballot questions dealing with public policy and social issues that have been attracting the most attention.

Here are some of the main issues voters are being asked about:


Florida: Amendment 6 asks voters to approve a prohibition on public funds being used for abortions or for health-benefits coverage that includes abortion. Exceptions would be made where federal law requires coverage, or if the mother’s life is in danger, or in cases of rape or incest. Adoption of this measure requires 60 per cent support.

Montana: Legislative Referendum 120 asks voters to approve a measure that would make it a crime for physicians to perform an abortion on a minor under the age of 16 unless the parents or legal guardians are notified at least 48 hours in advance. Notice would not be required in cases of medical emergencies or if a youth court waived the requirement.

Same-sex marriage

Maine: Question 1 on Maine’s ballot asks voters if the state should be allowed to issue marriage licences to same-sex couples. If passed, this would overturn a 2009 ballot measure that banned same-sex marriages.

Maryland: Question 6 is a veto referendum. It asks voters if they support or are opposed to Maryland’s civil marriage law that allows gay and lesbian couples to get a civil marriage licence as of Jan. 1, 2013. The referendum basically gives voters a chance to decide if the Civil Marriage Protection Act should be upheld.

Minnesota: Amendment 1 asks voters if a marriage should be recognized as valid only if it is between a man and a woman. If passed, the state constitution would be amended to add that definition of marriage.

Washington: Referendum 74 asks voters if same-sex marriage should be legal in the state of Washington. The state passed a measure earlier this year to give same-sex couples the right to marry.


Arkansas: Issue 5 on the Arkansas ballot asks voters to approve a proposed law that would allow the medical use of marijuana. People with state-issued health cards could buy their pot from a special dispensary or grow up to six plants for their personal use.

Colorado: Amendment 64 proposes to allow people 21 years of age or older to legally possess limited amounts of marijuana for recreational use. Colorado already allows medicinal use of the drug.

Massachusetts: Question 3 asks voters if they want to allow the medical use of marijuana. The proposed law would eliminate state criminal and civil penalties by “qualifying” patients. A patient would have to be diagnosed with a “debilitating medical condition, such as cancer, glaucoma, HIV-positive status or AIDS, hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, or multiple sclerosis,” according to the state attorney-general.

Oregon: Measure 80 on the Oregon ballot asks whether marijuana should be legalized, sold and taxed through state-licensed stores. It would also allow personal cultivation and use. Oregon currently allows and regulates the medical use of marijuana, but all other use is illegal.

Washington: Initiative 502 asks voters if people aged 21 and over should be allowed to legally possess small amounts of marijuana. If approved, the sale of marijuana would be regulated and licensed by the state’s liquor control board.

Labelling of GMO foods

California: Proposition 37 deals with genetically engineered food and proposes that consumers have a right to be told if the food they're buying has been genetically modified. A "Yes" vote would require mandatory labelling of food that is made from plants or animals with genetic material that has been changed in certain specified ways. It would also prohibit the marketing of such food, or other processed food, as "natural."

Death penalty

California: Proposition 34 proposes to eliminate the death penalty and replace it with life imprisonment with no possibility of parole. If approved, the 724 people on California’s death row would have their death sentences replaced with life imprisonment.

Assisted suicide

Massachusetts: Question 2, also known as the “death with dignity” initiative, asks voters whether doctors should be allowed “to prescribe medication, at the request of a terminally-ill patient meeting certain conditions, to end that person’s life.” The conditions would include a certification by two doctors that the patient has less than six months to live and is mentally competent to make an assistance request. Patients would also have to verbally request assistance to end their lives on two occasions at least 15 days apart.

Primary source: