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American Voters Decided More Than Just the Presidency

Voters in California were among citizens around the country deciding policy measures. In California, voters decided on questions including legalization of marijuana use and the death penalty among other things.
American Voters Will Decide on More Than Just the Presidency
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On Election Day, American voters decided more than who would go to the White House next year.

Voters in 35 states were asked to decide more than 150 policy questions, such as legalizing use of the drug marijuana and restrictions on gun ownership.

Marijuana use

Voters in Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota approved measures to permit marijuana use for medical purposes. A majority of states now let patients use the drug for some medical conditions.

In California, Maine and Massachusetts, people over 21 may now use marijuana even without a medical need. But voters in Arizona rejected the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Gun control

California voters approved a measure to severely limit people’s ability to buy ammunition for large guns.

In the state of Washington, voters approved a plan to temporarily ban people who show signs of mental problems or violence from possessing a gun.

In Nevada, voters passed a measure to expand investigations into individuals taking part in nearly all private sales and exchanges of guns. But a similar measure failed in Maine.

Minimum wage

The federal government currently requires all American businesses to pay workers at least $7.25 an hour. Three states agreed to raise that rate to as much as $12 an hour by 2020. In the state of Washington, voters approved a measure to raise the minimum wage to $13.50 an hour, also by 2020.

But in South Dakota, voters lowered the minimum wage for people under age 18 by about one dollar.

Death penalty

Californians rejected a measure to end the state’s right to use execution as a way to punish criminals.

In Nebraska, voters agreed to re-establish a court’s right to sentence some prisoners to death.

And in Oklahoma, residents approved a measure to make it harder to cancel the death penalty.


California voters made it easier for schools to teach in languages other than English. And in Georgia, voters said the state cannot take control of public schools that fail year after year.

Other measures

In California, voters rejected a measure that would require people in adult films to wear condoms during sex scenes.

Coloradans voted on a measure related to adults with a life-threatening health disorder. Voters agreed to let such individuals end their life with doctor-approved medication.

The measure will require three health experts to confirm that natural death is near and also confirm that the patients are making the decision for themselves.

Voters in the District of Columbia approved a measure to make the U.S. capital the 51st state. The decision has no immediate effect. Instead, voters say they hope their opinion puts pressure on the next government to end D.C.’s lack of representation in Congress.

I’m Jonathan Evans

Kelly Jean Kelly wrote this story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

minimum – adj. the lowest amount of number of something

condom – n. a thin rubber that a man wears during sex to prevent pregnancy or to the spread of disease

penalty – n. punishment

scene – n. a part of a movie or play in which a certain activity takes place