California voters rejected Proposition 19, the measure that would have made the state the first in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana. Well-funded activists fought hard to pass Proposition 19 and end the state's prohibition on pot, but California's political and law enforcement establishment carried the day.
With 93 percent of precincts reporting, Prop 19 was trailing 53.7 percent to 46.3 percent early Wednesday, leading analysts to declare defeat. Proposition 19
would have allowed possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by adults over 21, and would have allowed local officials to tax it.
Polls went back and forth in months leading up to the election, but in the final days, the "no" forces gathered steam.
Proponents of legalized marijuana said the ballot measure was a milestone and predicted it would be back on the ballot in 2012 in California and other states.
Otherwise, there were few discernible trends among the 142 initiatives
and legislative measures on midterm ballots. Click here for the latest results on major ballot measures.
In Colorado, an initiative to block the new federal health care law was projected to lose. But voters in Oklahoma were on the verge of overwhelmingly approved a similar measure. Similarly, Oklahoma voters turned away from a measure to increase spending on public education, but voters in Massachusetts refused to cut their sales tax in half.
California was the only state with a measure on recreational pot, but South Dakota and Arizona ballots included medical marijuana initiatives, South Dakota's Measure 13
went down in flames, 63 percent to 37 percent. Arizona's Proposition 203
was statistically on the fence, though no-votes were ahead by about 7,000 with 92 percent of precincts reporting early Wednesday morning. There are currently 14 states, and the District of Columbia, with forms of medical marijuana laws.
In several states, voters had a chance to weigh in on the debate over the future of the new health care laws. In Colorado, Amendment 63
, which would create a constitutional right to a "health care choice," trailed by a 55-45 margin. Arizona voters seem more receptive to Proposition 106
, which would bar any law requiring a person to participate in a health care system. In early voting
, Proposition 106 led 60-40 percent. And Oklahoma voters were soundly supporting
the state's proposed "Health Care Freedom
" Amendment, State Question 756, by a margin of 65-35 percent with roughly one-third of the votes counted.
With the economy and unemployment a major talking point this election, several ballot measures around the country focused on taxes. In the state of Washington, Proposition 1098
sought to tax wealthy state residents in order to provide tax relief to small businesses and the middle class. But Washington voters turned it down 65 percent to 35 percent, with 59 percent of precincts counted, according to the Associated Press.
In Oklahoma, with a third of the precincts reporting, voters were rejecting by a margin of 80-20 percent a taxing measure called Helping Oklahoma Education Act
. State Question 744, which would require the legislature to fund the state's public school system on a par with per-student costs in neighboring states, was trailing. But voters in Massachusetts refused
to roll back the Commonwealth's sales tax from 6.25 percent to 3 percent. With 70 percent of precincts reporting
, the tax rollback measure was down 57-43 percent.
Other notable measures:
In California, via Proposition 23
, voters in early returns were rejecting an attempt to put off greenhouse gas regulation in the Golden State until its economy turns around.
In Colorado, Amendment 62
, a measure that would give fetuses constitutional rights from the moment of inception, went down to defeat, 70 percent to 30 percent.
In Missouri, voters appeared headed toward defeating dog-breeding restrictions
. With roughly one-third of the precincts reporting, the measure to restrict puppy mills was trailing