The Corner

Marijuana, Minimum Wage Win Big in 2016 Ballot Measures

A quick rundown of which state-ballot measures succeeded and failed last night:

Physician-Assisted Suicide

Voters in Colorado approved a ballot measure permitting physician-assisted suicide for people over 18 diagnosed with terminal illnesses. “Yes” votes won by a wide margin of 64.6 percent to 35.4 percent. Colorado is now the sixth state to allow assisted suicide.

Medical Marijuana

Four states voted on ballot measures legalizing medical marijuana; three of the four — North Dakota, Florida, and Montana — approved the measure by very wide margin of at least 14 percentage points. In the fifth state, Arkansas, voters also voted to legalize the drug for medicinal use, but the state supreme court ruled in October that that measure couldn’t be considered due to invalid signatures obtained for its inclusion on the ballot. With this vote, over half of U.S. states permit medical marijuana.

Recreational Marijuana

California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada approved measures legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Maine was the only state to pass the measure by a very slim margin — just 50.3 “yes” votes to 49.7 “no” votes. Meanwhile, Arizona rejected the ballot measure by a slightly larger gap of about four percentage points.

Right to Work

While both Virginia and Alabama have laws on the books making them right-to-work states, voters in these states considered ballot measures to add a similar measure to their state constitutions. In Virginia, the measure was defeated by a 53 percent to 47 percent vote, but Alabama voters approved theirs by a huge gap of nearly 40 percentage points. This brings the total of right-to-work state-constitutional measures to seven.

Minimum Wage Increases

Voters in four states — Washington, Arizona, Colorado, and Maine — all approved measures to raise the state minimum wage by 2020. Washington will raise its to $13.50, while the other three will raise theirs to $12. The measures were all approved by a margin of at least ten percentage point (though Colorado’s margin was just slightly shy of ten percentage points).

Expanded Background Checks for Gun Purchases

In Nevada and Washington, voters approved ballot measures to expand required background checks for all gun purchases; the margin in Nevada was extremely narrow, with a less than one percentage point difference. Maine, on the other hand, rejected a similar measure by a slim margin. California citizens voted overwhelmingly in favor of expanded background checks, but the state recently passed a large gun-control package that institutes even more stringent regulations than the ballot measure proposes.