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Midterm Elections 2022: Ballot Questions to Track on Election Day

Referendums in multiple states are addressing recreational cannabis, abortion access and voting regulations.

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A voter in Phoenix drops off a ballot on Election Day. Among other things, Arizonans are weighing in on the referendum process and voting regulations.
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

It's Election Day, and in addition to selecting representatives on the local, state and federal level, voters in many states will cast their ballots in referendums on issues ranging from abortion access to gun control.

Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia have a referendum process that allows citizens and lawmakers to place propositions on the ballot. Today voters across the US will decide on 132 statewide ballot measures

The topics are diverse, but several issues are appearing in ballot initiatives in multiple states.

Marijuana

Voters in five states -- Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota -- are deciding whether to legalize recreational cannabis use. If all five initiatives pass, marijuana will be legal for adult use in nearly half the country.

In Colorado, which legalized adult-use marijuana in 2012, the Natural Medicine Health Act would decriminalize the possession, growing and use of "magic mushrooms" (psilocybin mushrooms) and other plant-based psychedelics. They would still not be able to be sold, however.

A referendum on recreational marijuana was certified too late to appear on the Oklahoma ballot on Election Day, but will be the subject of a special election in March 2023.

Abortion

Five months after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, five states have ballot initiatives that would impact abortion rights, the most on record in a single election cycle.

Voters in Kentucky and Montana are deciding on initiatives that further restrict abortion access, while amendments in California, Vermont and Michigan would enshrine reproductive freedom in the state constitution.

In August, voters in Kansas rejected an amendment that would have said there was no right to an abortion in the state constitution.

Read on: Abortion Laws in Every State

Referendum process

Voters in Arkansas, Arizona, and South Dakota will decide whether to require all or certain ballot measures to receive a 60% supermajority to pass.  

Colorado's Proposition GG, meanwhile, would require initiatives focused on income taxes to more clearly summarize how they would impact voters.

Voting regulations

Six states are deciding on ballot measures that would alter current voting policies.

Nevada Question 3, which requires voter approval in 2022 and 2024, would introduce ranked-choice voting, while Connecticut Question 1 would add the option for early voting without any explanation. 

Among other changes, Michigan's Proposal 2, is designed to ensure that people have a right to vote without harassment, interference or intimidation.

Both Arizona Proposition 309 and Nebraska Initiative 432 would tighten voter identification requirements.

Ohio Issue 2 would block local governments from allowing noncitizens to vote. Opponents say language in the measure would also end the policy of allowing 17-year-olds to vote in primaries so long as they turn 18 by the time of the general election.

Slavery language

While the 13th Amendment outlawed chattel slavery in the US, it left an exception "for punishment of [a] crime." Technically, 20 state constitutions still include language permitting enslavement or indentured servitude as a criminal punishment or for the payment of a debt.

On Election Day, voters in Alabama, Louisiana, Vermont, Oregon and Tennessee will decide whether to remove such language.

Advocates hope passing these initiatives will increase pressure to alter the language of the 13th Amendment.

"The more states that do this, the more federal support we can garner," Bianca Tylek, director of prison-reform group Worth Rises, told CNN.

For more on Election Day 2022, find out where your polling place is, what your voting rights are and how gerrymandering is changing the political landscape in America.