- Voters across the country cast votes for national, state and local candidates in the 2022 midterms Tuesday, and they also voted on a slate of ballot measures.
- Michigan, California and Vermont enshrined abortion rights in their state constitutions on Tuesday. Meanwhile, an anti-abortion measure in Kentucky was rejected by voters.
- Maryland and Missouri voters approved legalizing recreational marijuana for people over 21. But voters in Arkansas, North Dakota and South Dakota rejected legalization proposals.
Millions of voters across the country cast their ballots for the 2022 midterm elections on Tuesday.
In addition to picking key state and local officials, their votes should determine whether Democrats will be able keep control of the U.S. House and Senate, or if Republicans will flip one or both houses of Congress.
As the sun crept over the East Coast on Wednesday, it remained a toss up. Democrats won key Senate and governor seats, like John Fetterman flipping the Senate seat in Pennsylvania against Republican Mehmet Oz. The “red wave” of Republican strength was not rolling in as of Wednesday morning, despite wins like Republican incumbent Brian Kemp defeating Democrat Stacey Abrams for Georgia Governor. Many highly-watched races have still yet to be called.
Amid millions of votes for lawmakers, voters also weighed in on ballot initiatives from coast to coast – on issues ranging from legalizing marijuana to accessing abortion and outlawing slavery.
Some Americans voted on raising the minimum wage, expanding Medicaid and on policies designed to address climate change.
Here’s what you need to know about key ballot measures from Election Day 2022.
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Abortion access votes in California, Kentucky, Michigan, Vermont
After the Supreme Court overturned its landmark Roe v. Wade decision earlier this year, abortion access became a key issue in states across the country. For the midterms, advocates hoped that states nationwide would protect reproductive rights.
Voters in Michigan, California and Vermont enshrined abortion rights in their state constitutions on Tuesday, per Associated Press counts. In Kentucky, an anti-abortion measure on the ballots was rejected by voters.
The rejection of the amendment, which attempted to deny any constitutional protections for abortion in the state, marks a significant victory for abortion rights. Kentucky’s GOP-dominated legislature has imposed a near-total ban on abortions – which could still be upheld by the state Supreme Court. But the amendment rejection also means there’s a possibility for the court to declare abortion as a state right.
And in Montana, a referendum could mean criminal charges for health care workers if they don’t take “all medically appropriate and reasonable actions to preserve the life” of an infant who is born living, including after an attempted abortion.
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Voting measures in Arizona, Connecticut, Michigan, Nebraska
Voting rights were on ballots in several states for the midterms – including measures on voter identification, early voting, and rules on passing ballot initiatives.
In Connecticut, a constitutional amendment to allow in-person early voting passed in Tuesday’s elections.
Meanwhile, Ohio voters passed an amendment that would prohibit people who are not U.S. citizens from voting in local elections. And in Nebraska, voters passed a measure that requires a valid photo ID to vote in any election.
In Arizona, voters were asked whether they should be required to provide a date of birth and voter identification number for early ballot affidavits, instead of only a signature. Arizonians also voted on proposals about ballot initiatives, including whether the state’s legislature can amend or repeal measures that voters have passed if the measures are deemed unconstitutional.
In Michigan, voters were asked whether to create a nine-day window for early voting, among other changes, such as requiring a photo ID or signed affidavit to vote. And ballots in Nevada asked voters about establishing ranked-choice voting for congressional and some state elections.
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Prohibiting slavery – particularly among prisoners
Five states were deciding whether to abolish slavery on Election Day. Voters in three states – Alabama, Tennessee and Vermont – passed measures to change their state constitutions to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude as punishment for crime, according to Associated Press counts.
In Oregon, the vote remained too close to call as of Wednesday morning – but votes in support of adopting the state’s anti-slavery initiative were leading. Meanwhile, voters in Louisiana rejected an amendment to remove language from the state’s constitution allowing for involuntary servitude in the criminal justice system.
Yes, more than 150 years ago, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ended slavery on a national level when it was ratified in 1865. But loopholes do still allow it as a punishment for people convicted of a crime.
If enacted, these referendums could be more than just a symbolic gesture. Criminal justice reform advocates have said they could mean higher wages for prison work, among other changes.
Maryland and Missouri legalize recreational weed; other states vote on drug policies
Marijuana appeared on ballots in multiple states this year. In Arkansas, Missouri, Maryland, North Dakota and South Dakota, voters were faced with an option to legalize recreational marijuana for people 21 and older.
Maryland and Missouri voters approved legalizing recreational marijuana for people 21 and over though constitutional amendments on Tuesday. Both states’ measures will also bring changes to criminal law and expunge many past marijuana possession convictions. In Missouri, for example, nonviolent offenses will be expunged – with the exception of selling to minors or driving under the influence.
Meanwhile, Arkansas, North Dakota and South Dakota voters rejected proposals for legalizing recreational use on Tuesday.
Colorado voters weighed in on whether the state should define certain fungi and psychedelic plants as natural medicine. The amendment would also allow personal use, possession, transportation and growth of the substances for people who are 21 or older. As of early Wednesday, the vote was too early to call.
DC raises minimum wage for tipped workers; Nevada, Nebraska vote on wage increases
Nevada voters were presented with an opportunity on Tuesday to increase the minimum wage in the state to $12 per hour. The state’s current minimum wage is between $9.50 to $10.50, depending whether a person has health insurance.
Nebraska voters approved ballot measure that will significantly increase the state’s minimum wage from the current $9 an hour to $15 an hour by 2026.
In Washington, D.C., voters chose to raise the minimum wage for tipped employees to match the pay of non-tipped employees.
Contributing: The Associated Press.