Day 6

Five things this U.S. election could change other than who gets to be president

For months, the story has been Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. But there are plenty of other decisions being weighed in this U.S. election—from where recreational marijuana will be legal to how many states will outlaw the death penalty. Politico's Digital Editor Zack Stanton runs down the top five issues on U.S. state ballots that have nothing to do with Clinton or Trump.
The showdown between presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton won't be the only outcome worth watching on election day. (Cesare Abbate/ANSA/Associated Press)

When American citizens head to the polls on November 8, they'll be voting on an awful lot more than Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

At the state level, more than 150 different propositions will appear on this year's ballots, covering everything from gun laws to fishing rights and biomedical research.

In the state of California alone, voters will be asked to weigh in on a whopping 17 different ballot measures, including a proposal to cap the price of prescription drugs and an unusual experiment in direct democracy.

The number of states where recreational pot is legalized could double when votes are cast on Nov. 8.

No matter who ends up in the White House, every one of those measures could have a lasting impact on American lives.

Zack Stanton, digital editor at Politico Magazine, will be watching the outcomes of those state-level ballot initiatives very closely.

As the clock ticks down to the U.S. presidential election, we asked Stanton to weigh in with his top five U.S. ballot measures that have nothing to do with Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

Test ballots stacked in New York City ahead of Tuesday's election. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)


1. The number of states where recreational pot is legal could double

Recreational marijuana is already legal in four U.S. states. On Tuesday, voters in five additional states will vote on whether to make recreational weed legal. 

Medicinal marijuana is also set to get a boost, with pot-friendly propositions on the ballot in Florida, Arkansas and North Dakota. Depending on the outcome Nov. 8, a majority of American states could soon have legalized medical pot.

"It will mark a huge liberalization, potentially, of America's drug policy," says Stanton.


2. The number of states with a death penalty ban could reach a new high

In California and Nebraska, voters will decide whether or not their state governments should be allowed to use the death penalty.

If both states abolish the practice, the total number of states where the practice is banned would reach an all-time high of 21.

Meanwhile, residents in Oklahoma will vote on an amendment that would enshrine the right to use capital punishment in the state constitution.

"What you're seeing on the one hand is a big gain for the moratorium movement; but there are also potential gains for people who are death penalty advocates," says Stanton.

On Nov. 8, ballots in Washington, D.C. will give voters a chance to move the capital one step closer to becoming America's 51st state. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)


3. The California porn industry could be forced to use condoms

California is a huge hub for the entertainment industry — including a $10 billion-dollar adult film industry. But on Tuesday, voters will be asked to consider making condom use a requirement in all pornographic scenes that depict penetrative sex.

The measure comes on the heels of a similar 2012 law in Los Angeles County which was pushed through by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation to encourage safe sex.

But not everyone is happy about the proposed law.

"The concern there for some people is that if the condom law passes statewide, the porn industry will move out of state -- and that California could lose thousands of jobs in the process," says Stanton.

For months, the story has been Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. But there are plenty of other decisions being weighed in this U.S. election. Politico's Digital Editor Zack Stanton runs down the top five issues on U.S. state ballots.


4. Washington, D.C. could take a step towards becoming the 51st state

Residents of Washington, D.C. seeking direct representation in Congress could have their shot on Nov. 8, when they are asked to vote on a proposition that would authorize their local government to pass a state constitution — before they actually become a state.

"They're trying to finally achieve statehood… and hope that this sort of forces the federal government's hand here, and pushes them into admitting D.C. as the 51st state in the country," says Stanton.


5. Colorado could implement the nation's only state-wide single-payer healthcare system

If voters in Colorado approve Amendment 69, Obamacare would be replaced with Coloradocare —  a single-payer system unlike any existing model in the U.S.

A similar model was attempted in Vermont several years ago, although it did not last. But unlike Vermont, Colorado is considered a swing state — which makes the amendment's arrival on the ballot that much more interesting to Stanton.

"What Colorado is talking about doing would be the largest experiment with single-payer or socialized medicine in United States history," he says.