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Ballot issues ~ State constitutional amendments, ballot initiatives and referenda

[JURIST] [JURIST Election Special] Here's a sampling of key state constitutional amendments, ballot initiatives and referenda on the ballot in today's general election.

Eleven states are voting on constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage. Proposed amendments in Mississippi [PDF - all links to proposal text or background], Montana and Oregon refer only to same-sex marriage, while proposals in Arkansas [PDF], Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma [PDF] and Utah would also ban civil unions.

Six states are considering medical malpractice and tort reform measures. Voters in Nevada, Oregon and Wyoming consider whether to place limits on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases. Voters in California and Colorado [PDF] consider tort reform measures not related to medical malpractice. Florida voters are deciding whether to limit contingency agreements in medical malpractice cases (text here).

Several states will consider election, political or judicial reform. Most notably, Colorado's Amendment 36 would change the state's system for allocating presidential electoral votes from a winner-take-all system to a proportional system. Rhode Island voters will consider a constitutional amendment meant to ensure separation of powers in the state. South Dakota's ballot has a proposed amendment on the merit selection of judges. California voters are considering initiatives on limiting the state's three strikes law (text here) and the extent to which felons should be required to submit DNA samples to the state's database (text here). Nevada voters will decide whether to penalize lawyers involved in frivolous lawsuits (text here).

Other questions facing voters include a Florida amendment on parental notification for a minor's abortion, an Alabama amendment repealing constitutional provisions related to separation of schools by race, right to education and poll tax, and a Nevada question on voting by "idiots or insane persons."

The National Conference of State Legislatures provides an overview of 2004 constitutional amendments, initiatives and referenda.

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