08 November 2012

10 oddities of the US election

Obama vs. Romney: not the only decision Americans had to make on 6 November. GM food, indoor smoking, abortion, euthanasia and marijuana were also on the list in some states.


Americans didn't just choose their new president and vote for congressional and state representatives on 6 November 2012: they also voted in 38 states on 176 health and legal issues.

These mini-referendums concerned matters as widely ranging as issues around abortion, same-sex marriages, smoking indoors, hunting and fishing, rulings on assisted suicide and the decriminalisation of marijuana possession and the use of medical marijuana. These outcomes reveal the extent to which states go their own way with regards to issues that in many other countries would be seen as national policy decisions.

Here follows a quick run-down of the major health and lifestyle issues that were decided in certain states.

Marijuana/medical marijuana
In Colorado and Washington a majority of votes were cast in favour of the legalising of recreational marijuana use. Possession and sale of marijuana will no longer be a crime. This might mean a clash with federal authorities could be on the cards. Marijuana is claasified as an illegal narcotic by federal authorities.

In Colorado, people over the age of 21 would be allowed to have 28g of the drug, and would be allowed to cultivate up to six marijuana plants. 

In Massachusetts, the use of medical marijuana has been passed. the use of medical marijuana has already been passed in 17 other states and in the District of Columbia.

Medical insurance
Florida has voted against the paying of penalties for not having health care insurance.

Same-sex marriage
Maine, Maryland and Washington states have approved same-sex marriage. Although legislators have passed laws allowing same-sex marriage in six states, this is the first time a clear majority has been achieved in a popular vote.

The death penalty
In California voters had to decide on abolishing the death penalty, which would have seen 724 people on death row having their sentences commuted to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. They have voted in favour of keeping the death penalty.

The labelling of genetically-modified food
In California, 53% of the electorate voted against the mandatory labelling of all genetically-modified food.

Hunting and fishing
Nebraska voted overwhelmingly for the right to hunt and fish within the state.

Property taxes on boats
Kansas has voted to alter the state's property taxes on watercraft.

Indoors smoking and animal cruelty
North Dakota has voted overwhelmingly to ban smoking in all indoor workplaces, but against animal cruelty being made into a felony.

Minors and abortion
Montana has voted for parental involvement in the case of a minor having an abortion.

Crime victims and damages claims
In Arizona it has been decided that crime victims may not be subject to a claim for damages for causing death or injury.

(Compiled by Susan Erasmus, November 2012)

Sources: (ABC News, Huffington Post)




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