(WorldMag.com) – An overview of ­hot-button measures across the nation…


Proposition 102, the Marriage Protection Amendment, would define marriage as between one man and one woman.


The Unmarried Couple Adoption Ban would prevent unmarried, cohabiting couples (whether heterosexual or homosexual) from adopting or providing foster care to minors.


Proposition 4 would require doctors to notify a parent or guardian 48 hours before performing an abortion on a minor. Proposition 8 would amend the state constitution to recognize only marriages between one man and one woman.


Question 48, the Personhood Amendment, would define “person” as any human being from the moment of fertilization. Amendment 46, the Civil Rights Initiative, seeks to ban affirmative action programs.


Amendment 2 would define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.


Proposal 1, the Coalition for Compassionate Care Initiative, would allow critically ill patients, with doctor approval, to use, possess, and grow their own marijuana for medicinal purposes. Proposal 2, also known as the Stem Cell Initiative, would allow researchers to use donated embryos (left over from fertility clinics) to extract embryonic stem cells.


Amendment 1 would make English the official language at all government meetings.


The Casino Measure would make Maryland the 38th state to allow slots or casino-style gambling.


The Civil Rights Initiative seeks to ban affirmative action programs.


Question 2 would restrict government use of eminent domain to acquire private property for public use. This initiative passed in 2006, but voters must reaffirm in order for it to take effect.


Issue 6 would allow the construction of Ohio’s first casino. The resort casino would be located near Wilmington.

South Dakota

The Abortion Ban Initiative would prohibit abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or to protect the mother’s health.


I-1000, also called the “Death with Dignity” initiative, would legalize assisted suicides for mentally competent, terminally ill adults with six months or less to live.

Copyright ©2008 WORLD Magazine, October 18, 2008.  Reprinted here October 21st with permission from World Magazine. Visit the website at www.WorldMag.com.  


1.  a) How many states will have ballot proposals on their ballots in November? 
b)  Which three states have the greatest number of proposals on their ballots in November?
(See the pdf document “Election Preview” under Ballotwatch 2008 at iandrinstitute.org for the answers.)

2.  Read about the Initiative and Referendum process under “Background” below.
Then read more about ballot measures (initiatives and referendums) at the Initiative and Referendum website iandrinstitute.org.
And view of map of the types of ballot measures states have at iandrinstitute.org/statewide_i%26r.htm.
a) What type of initiative process does your state have?
b) What type of ballot measures do you think your state should have?  Explain your answer.

3.  What is the difference between an initiative and a referendum?
(See “What are ballot propositions, initiatives, and referendums?” at iandrinstitute.org/Quick%20Fact%20-%20What%20is%20I&R.htm
for the answer.)

4.  Describe the ballot measures/initiatives/proposals that will be on your state’s ballot in November.

5.  Read the list of ballot measures in this article.  List the issues included in the ballot measures described in the article.

6.  Which issue from the list in answer #5 is the most important to you?  Why?

7.  Read the pdf document “Same-Sex Marriage” under Ballotwatch 2008 at iandrinstitute.org.
a)  Which three states have ballot measures to define marriage as between one man and one woman only?
b)  How many states have already passed such measures?
c)  What does the information on states’ banning of gay marriage tell you about people’s attitudes toward traditional marriage?  Explain your answer.



  • Anything that appears on a ballot other than a candidate running for office is called a ballot measure.  Ballot measures are broken down into two distinct categories – initiatives (or propositions) and referendums.
  • Initiatives – when the citizens, collecting signatures on a petition, place advisory questions, memorials, statutes (laws) or constitutional amendments on the ballot for the citizens to adopt or reject. 
  • Twenty-four states have the initiative process. 
  • In many of the same states the citizens have the referendum process – the ability to reject laws or amendments proposed or already passed by the state legislature.  “Initiatives” refers to newly drafted legislation submitted directly to a popular vote as an alternative to adoption by a state legislature.

NOTE:  The terms above are all forms of “direct democracy” practiced by various states.  Read an explanation of direct democracy at Wikipedia.org.


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