State Ballot Initiatives Could Boost Turnout, Affecting Key Races

Tue, Oct 28 2014 — Source: National Journal

When Alaskans vote next Tuesday, they’ll decide not just on a governor and a senator, but also on whether to legalize recreational marijuana use, hike the state’s minimum wage, and require the Legislature to approve any future large-scale mining in one the world’s most productive salmon fisheries.

“These are not just side dishes. They are a big part of Tuesday’s ballot,” said Alaska Democratic Party Chairman Mike Wenstrup on Monday. Not only do they represent major policy decisions, he said, but Democrats who might otherwise skip the election may turn out on these issues. And with the both the governor and Senate races so tight, “every little bit helps,” he said.

Across the country, 146 ballot propositions go before voters on Nov. 4. Combined with measures decided earlier this year, it brings the total number of statewide issues in 2014 to 158. There has been a downward trend in ballot initiatives in the past 30 years, which some blame on complicated requirements imposed by state officials. There were 176 propositions in 2012.

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