Five Social Issues On November Ballots

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In addition to choosing a president and members of Congress, voters in several states will weigh in on high-profile social issues on Nov. 6. Here are some of the key voter initiatives on ballots:

1: Same-Sex Marriage
States: Washington, Maryland, Maine
State lawmakers in Washington and Maryland passed legislation this year to allow same-sex marriage, but both laws are on hold until the public gets a chance to vote them up or down in November. In every state where same-sex marriage has been put to a popular vote before, it's been defeated. But supporters think this year may be different. A similar question is on the ballot in Maine.

2: Abolish The Death Penalty
State: California
Opponents of the death penalty say it's costing the state too much; through Proposition 34, they want to replace it with a maximum penalty of life without parole, and direct $100 million a year to other law enforcement priorities. Supporters of capital punishment say the real problem is the constant legal delays and appeals that make the death penalty so expensive to enforce.

3: Physician-Assisted Suicide
State: Massachusetts
Supporters of physician-assisted suicide are advocating for Question No. 2, the so-called "Death with Dignity Act." They say it would allow terminally ill patients — defined as those who've been told they have less than six months to live — to choose the time and manner of their death. Opponents fear the law would encourage suicide when other options are also available.

4: Undermine Obamacare
States:
Florida, Alabama, Missouri, Montana
A host of ballot initiatives would attempt to undermine various provisions of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, better known as Obamacare. Ballot questions in Florida and Montana target the "individual mandate" — the part of the law that will require most Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty. Opponents say it's a moot point because the Supreme Court has already upheld most of the controversial health care law.

5: Legalize Marijuana
States: Colorado, Oregon, Washington
Activists in Colorado, Washington and Oregon have high hopes for ballot initiatives that would legalize and regulate marijuana. More than a dozen states have approved marijuana for medical uses. None has gone as far as legalizing and regulating the drug like alcohol, as these initiatives would do. But a recent poll shows a majority of likely voters in Colorado support legalizing marijuana if it is regulated like alcohol, which the state's Amendment 64 provides for.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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