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US voters split on election reform ballot measures

[JURIST] An amendment to the Maryland Constitution [text] to permit early voting was among several election-reform ballot measures approved by voters in Maryland and other states Tuesday. Question 1 [text and materials] authorizes the Maryland General Assembly to allow voters to cast ballots outside their election districts or wards, to vote as much as two weeks before an election and to request absentee ballots regardless of whether they could vote in person on Election Day. As of 2 PM EST Thursday, unofficial results [text] for Question 1 (with 1,804 of 1,829 polls reporting) were:

Yes – 1,574,480 – 71.6%
No – 623,220 – 28.4%

In Arkansas, voters likewise favored a legislative referendum [Proposed Constitutional Amendment 1 text, PDF; unofficial results] to remove obsolete voting language from the state constitution. The amendment states that all US citizens who are residents of Arkansas, at least 18 years old and lawfully registered may vote, repealing provisions that tied the right to vote to previous registrations of a voter's name and denied voting rights to "idiot[s] and insane person[s]." In Connecticut, a ballot measure [Constitutional Amendment Question 2 text, PDF; unofficial results, PDF] to allow any person who will be 18 years old on or before a general election to vote in the preceding primary election won approval. In California, voters appeared to narrowly support an initiative [Proposition 11 text and materials; unofficial results] amending the state constitution to authorize a 14-member nonpartisan commission, rather than the state Legislature, to establish legislative district boundaries.

Several election-related measures in other states failed. In South Dakota, voters overwhelmingly defeated a measure [Constitutional Amendment J text and materials, PDF; unofficial results] to lift term limits for state legislators. In Nevada, a legislative referendum [Question 1 text and materials, PDF; unofficial results] to amend the state constitution by removing a six-month residency requirement for voting also was defeated. The US Supreme Court ruled in 1972 that a similar durational residency requirement violated the Equal Protection Clause [Dunn v. Blumstein opinion text] of the US Constitution. Finally, in Oregon, voters soundly rejected an initiative [Measure 65 text and materials; unofficial results] to establish a single primary election for partisan offices in which the two candidates receiving the most votes would advance to the general election.

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