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Marijuana, Gun Rights and Minimum Wage: How America Voted

Voters across the country weighed in on some big issues Tuesday, and one city became the first to approve a tax on sodas and sugary drinks.
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Voters didn't just pick who they're sending to Congress and their state legislatures Tuesday — they also spoke up on a staggering range of fiercely debated issues, from abortion and legal pot to gun rights and hiking the minimum wage.

Here's a look at the results of just some of the nearly 150 ballot initiatives considered Tuesday:


  • Colorado rejected a constitutional amendment that would have modified the state's criminal code to include fetuses under the terms "person" and "child" in legal statutes. The measure's opponents said it could lead to a statewide ban on abortion; supporters said it was intended to bolster protections for pregnant women. Coloradans spurned similar measures in 2008 and 2010 by more than 70 percent.
  • North Dakota dumped a measure that would have declared in the state constitution "the inalienable right to life of every human being at every stage of development must be recognized and protected."
  • Tennessee approved a measure that will give state legislators more authority to "enact, amend, or repeal" abortion statutes.


Voters in two states, plus the District of Columbia, approved measures allowing recreational use of marijuana by adults old enough to buy a case of beer.

  • Oregon backed a measure that makes it legal for an adult ages 21 and over to possess up to eight ounces of "dried" marijuana and up to four plants.
  • Washington, D.C., embraced a measure that makes it legal for an adult ages 21 and over to possess up to two ounces of pot and up to three marijuana plants for personal use. The measure, which does not allow the legal sale of marijuana, will not take effect until after a review by Congress.
  • Alaska said yes to a measure that makes it legal for adults aged 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of pot and up to six plants.
  • Florida turned down a measure that would have made the state the 24th to legalize marijuana use for medical reasons. The constitutional amendment failed to win the 60 percent approval it needed to pass.


  • Washington state had two competing and contradictory gun-related measures on the ballot this cycle. Voters in that state approved one that seeks background checks for all gun sales and transfers, including private transactions. They rejected another that would have prohibited background checks on firearms until a federal standard is established.
Image: A man inspects a revolver
A man inspects a Colt Single Action Army revolver.MICHELLE MCLOUGHLIN / Reuters

Minimum Wage

Voters in four Republican-leaning states — including three that hosted contentious Senate races — decided to hike the minimum wage and a fifth said it would be willing to do that, too. Democrats in Washington have struggled to boost the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2016.

  • Arkansas voted to raise its hourly minimum wage from $6.25 — a wage below the federal minimum of $7.25 — to $7.50 at the beginning of 2015, increasing it 50 cents in 2016 and again in 2017.
  • Nebraska voted to raise its hourly minimum wage from the federal minimum to $8 next year and $9 in 2016.
  • South Dakota voted to raise its hourly minimum wage from the federal minimum to $8.50 next year. After that, increases would be linked to inflation.
  • Alaska voters decided to hike the state's hourly minimum wage from $7.75 to $8.75 next year and again to $9.75 in 2016. After that, increases will be linked to inflation.
  • Illinoissaid yes to a non-binding measure asking whether the hourly minimum wage should be raised from $8.25 to $10 next year.


  • California rejected a proposition that would have raised the cap on medical malpractice lawsuit awards for pain and suffering from $250,000 to roughly $1.1 million, The Associated Press reported. The measure would have also required hospitals to randomly test their physicians for alcohol and drug use.
  • Illinois said yes to a non-binding measure asking whether prescription birth control should be covered in health insurance plans that provide coverage for prescription drugs.
  • Massachusetts signed off on a measure that will allow workers to earn up to 40 hours of paid sick time in a given year, accruing one hour for every 30 hours on the clock. The ballot question's supporters have said it will give the state the country's strictest requirement for providing paid sick time to workers.