All 50 states allow some form of ballot measure or referendum, and a dizzying 202 such measures were on voters' mid-term slates in 40 states on Tuesday.
But when it comes to using the ballot box to address social issues, this year's initiatives brought mixed results.
In Nevada, a measure that would have legalized marijuana was wisely defeated, nearly 2 to 1. Drug-reform measures in Arizona and Ohio also went down, showing that voters have a sense of social responsibility when it comes to ideas of making drugs more widely available even when facing heavy-handed advocacy and funding by three billionaires backing the measures.
In Florida, a ballot measure that bans smoking in all enclosed workplaces (including restaurants) passed by a wide margin. Five states now have such bans. More should consider similar restrictions.
Tennessee and North Dakota voters amended their constitutions to allow statewide lotteries. Hawaii and Utah remain the only states without any form of legalized gambling, and that means far too many states now have succumbed to the allure of gambling revenue as an addictive fix for state budget gaps.
In Oregon, a $1.7 billion measure that would have provided universal healthcare for that state's citizens was defeated a noteworthy limit on what even a liberal state like Oregon wants in terms of increased government services and taxes.
Pricey education initiatives passed in Florida and California, proving that issue still has traction. But legislators are left to find more in taxes or spending cuts to pay for more public schooling.