On the menu of the US elections: health, wages and marijuana

On Tuesday, the elections that made headlines in the United States were those of senators or governors. But Americans have also participated in a hundred or so referendums, which, although more discreet, can potentially transform their daily lives.

– Health –

Of these many votes, the most examined were, of course, related to abortion. They have led to a series of victories for the defenders of this right.

California, Vermont and Michigan have agreed to change their state constitutions to include the right to abortion.

More unexpectedly, conservative and religious Kentucky voters rejected an opposing proposal and Montana appeared to be on the same path, according to preliminary results.

The issue of medical expenses was also the subject of a referendum, in a country known for its high prices.

South Dakota, although Republican, has therefore chosen by a large majority to extend access to Medicaid, the state-provided health insurance for low-income people.

Arizona also seemed poised to pass legislation limiting medical debt, according to preliminary findings.

– Slavery –

Another important theme of these referendums is slavery. More than 150 years after its abolition with the 13th Amendment, voters in five states expressed their opinion on an exception still in place across much of the country: forced prison labor.

Signals to vote in Tampa, Florida on November 8, 2022 (AFP – Giorgio VIERA)

Alabama, Oregon, Tennessee and Vermont prohibited “slavery” or “enforced servitude” as punishment for crimes or for the payment of debts and fines.

These votes will not result in an automatic change for inmates, but they could pave the way for legal proceedings.

Only Louisiana rejected the proposal. But his text was controversial, because it was considered too convoluted.

Twenty states still allow this type of forced labor.

– Drugs –

A classic of these referendums, drug-related ballots have had mixed results.

Arkansas, as well as North and South Dakota, have opposed legalizing the recreational use of marijuana and restricting its possession.

Conversely, the residents of Maryland and Missouri voted to authorize it, thus joining the 19 US states, plus the capital Washington, which have already done so.

One issue remains unresolved in Colorado, where votes are still being counted for a proposal that decriminalizes the use and possession of certain magic mushrooms and other mind-altering substances called “natural medicines.”

– Wages –

An overwhelming majority of residents of the capital Washington, a Democratic stronghold, have decided that employees paid for tips should receive the legal minimum wage by 2027.

These employees, many in the restaurant business, have so far had to be paid at least $ 5.35 an hour, which is expected to rise to about $ 16.10 in the long run.

A similar text had already been voted on in 2018, before being rejected by the city council.

Nebraska voters have accepted a similar move, demanding that the state’s minimum wage be phased in from $ 9 to $ 15 by 2026.

– Vote –

Polls on Tuesday provided further evidence of tensions over voting rules. Allegations of fraud – rejected by the authorities – have flourished among the Republican base, especially in the key state of Arizona.

Several referendums, some of which have their origin in contesting the 2020 presidential election, also aimed to change the rules governing the elections.

Connecticut, one of the few states that has not yet allowed early voting, has paved the way for its implementation.

Michigan voted to loosen the rules around this procedure, while Nebraska agreed to tighten the identity verification process by requiring a photo ID.

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