Publication / decodeDC/ Scripps
September 26, 2014
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The 5 oddest ballot measures voters will decide on come Election Day

Voters have some interesting options

WASHINGTON, D.C. – We all know November 4 marks a big day for candidates vying to take up a seat in Congress’s hallowed halls. The outcome could even mean a power switch-up in the Senate. But alongside names of candidates who want to be legislators, voters in some states will also get to be legislators themselves by voting on initiatives – or new laws. While there is an unusually low number of ballot measures this year, many deal with hot topics such as abortion, guns and voting rights. Today though, we’re going to focus on some of the oddest initiatives.

Arkansas

It’s one of the few states in the country that still has dry counties–actually about half of its counties still are!–but a ballot initiative could change all of that. If Issue 4, known as the Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Amendment, were to pass it would legalize the “manufacture, transportation and sale of alcohol statewide.” Meaning bye bye Arkansas prohibition.

Alabama

If passed in November, Alabama will become the seventh state in the country to ban “international or foreign laws.” The bill, which some consider an effort to demonize the Islamic faith, does not mention Sharia law by name, but is considered a direct attempt to outlaw citizens from following such laws and faiths. Sharia is the concept of the law that rules Islam. It means total submission to the will of Allah, or their God. According to governing.com the Alabama initiative “would clarify the state constitution to say that that other state laws or foreign law cannot be used in ways that violate state law or rights under the Alabama Constitution or the U.S. Constitution.” A similar law, one that expressly mentioned Sharia law in Oklahoma, was struck down last year as unconstitutional by a judge.

Maine

Maine has a pretty hefty bear population and managing it is part of its state practices. But a new citizen initiated referendum could limit the way people hunt the mammals. The state’s Question 1 asks voters to place a ban on using traps, bait and dogs to hunt bears, with exceptions including protecting private property. Maine residents previously rejected the ban in 2003, but with groups like the Humane Society of the United States involved the outcome could be different this time around.

Michigan

Michigan seems to be going the opposite way as Maine in terms of its push for wildlife preservation. After a rather complicated referendum process, the two proposals on the ballot boil down to a simple question: to keep wolf hunting legal or to temporarily halt them? Last hunting season the state had its first legal wolf hunt which killed 23 of the animals. A yes vote for either proposal 1 or 2 would maintain the hunting for future years. It’s been a highly debated topic considering there are fewer than 650 wolves in Michigan. Only recently they animals have come off of the endangered species list.

Florida

The Sunshine state could be legalizing medical marijuana in the state come November if it gets enough votes for its Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative. But a ‘Yes’ vote for the bill would do more than bring ganja to sick patients, it would lift the state ban on bongs. As of July last year, all drug paraphernalia is outlawed in the state, which includes anything used to smoke the leafy green. Even 2 litter soda bottles, balloons and duct tape are banned in the state if they are used to smoke weed, reports the Tampa Bay Tribune. A lift on the ban could mean a new market for glass, wood or ceramic pipes.