Jessica: The ballots were so long in some states, officials encouraged voters to bring in notes! The end result is this is an election of many firsts. Across the country voters weighed in on matters such as Puerto Rico statehood, same sex marriage and legalizing marijuana. Several states already allow marijuana use for medical reasons.
Expert: You cannot be arrested for being in possession for an ounce of marijuana.
Jessica: Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
Expert: This is recreational use with no medical rationale behind it except the people like the feeling it gives them.
Jessica: These newly passed state laws conflict with federal law, but part of the appeal to voters is that a tax on marijuana could help solve state budget problems
Expert: When states are strapped for money, they’re going to look in very unusual places for revenue. They see that marijuana is a very big business, and whenever government sees a big business, people in government think, well, how can we tax it?
Jessica: Well, sales tax and higher taxes on the wealthy are how California voters decided they will fund their schools after passing Proposition 30. And getting a higher education in Maryland just got a little easier for those who are not legal citizens. Voters in Maryland passed a measure allowing undocumented immigrants to pay in-state rates if they attend a Maryland high school for three years and if they or their parents can show they filed state income taxes during that time.
Same-sex marriage was another big winner last night, although several states already recognize it. Maine and Maryland became the first states to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote. Experts say it will likely be approved in Washington state as well, although so far the vote is too close to call.
Jack Pitney: Twenty years ago, it was inconceivable that states would vote for same-sex marriage. Generational change is important. There’s a very strong relationship between support for same-sex marriage and age.
Jessica: And future generations may learn the U.S. has not 50 but 51 states. That is because by a slim majority, Puerto Ricans voted to become a state. The island is currently a U.S. territory. Residents are U.S. citizens but can’t vote in presidential elections and have limited representation in congress. And it is congress that would have to approve Puerto Rico’s bid for statehood.
So as you can see, even though we kept the same president and balance of power in Congress, there were a lot of changes on the state level.
Back to you, Julian.
- How did this election change the political makeup of Congress?
- What were some of the issues on the ballots in several states?
- What argument was used to support the legalization of marijuana for recreational use?
- How did same-sex marriage initiatives fare in the 2012 voting?
- Why is it possible that the U.S. will have 51 states in the future?