Results of ballot initiatives on election day.


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People of Colorado going to vote on election day.

Luke Dalessandro, Politics Editor

Twenty-six U.S states offer their citizens direct initiative or veto referendum rights, as well as Washington D.C. Of 162 measures decided in 2016, 154 of them were on the ballot on election day. Overall, proponents of many of the initiatives on legalized marijuana, an increased minimum wage, healthcare,  and stricter state gun laws won big. Of 23 measures on these topics on the ballot, voters approved 18, with a race in Maine only decided a week after election day.

When it comes to proponents of legalized recreational and medical marijuana, direct ballot initiatives on election day certainly won. The number of people living in states with legalized recreational marijuana went from 17.4 million to 67.5 million, with the population of Maine now included. California, Nevada, and Massachusetts all voted yes to the measures there, with Arizona being the only state to reject marijuana legalization. The people of Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota all voted in favor of getting medical marijuana closer to 50 state legalization. The program in Montana, which has already legalized medical marijuana, was also expanded, as voters said yes to removing the three patient limit for providers, certainly expanding the access to medical marijuana in the state.

Raising the minimum wage at the state level was one of the main concerns of the measures present on election day, and in every state a minimum wage ballot was present, it was approved. Voters in Arizona overwhelmingly approved Proposition 206, which increases the minimum wage to $12 by 2020. Amendment 70 in Colorado increased the minimum wage there to $12 by 2020 as well. Voters in Maine also approved a similar initiative, while voters in Washington voted to phase in a $13.50 minimum wage by 2020. There, the minimum wage sat at $9.47 since January 2015.

Gun control expansion also saw great success in the majority of the places it was on the ballot. In California, Proposition 63, which prohibits the possession of large capacity magazines, passed with a margin of over 2.7 million votes. Nevada approved an initiative that requires all transferring of guns to go through a licensed gun dealer. In the measure, exemptions are made for transfers between immediate family members. In Washington, voters overwhelmingly approved Initiative 1491, which authorizes courts to use emergency risk protection orders to remove a persons access to firearms.

In most elections ballot measures touch on issues affecting the most people nationally, the 2016 election was no different to this. 82 million people were in states with measures to legalize or loosen marijuana laws. 123.3 million citizens in states with measures concerning taxes present, more than one third of the U.S population. 50.5 million in states with initiatives providing gun control present. 21.6 million were in states were measures to increase the minimum wage were present, and 51.4 million in states balloted to increase tobacco taxes.

Particularly on presidential elections direct ballot initiatives often take a smaller priority to the election, despite this they affect affect a more than sizable percentage of people in the U.S.