The 5 Quirkiest And Most Confounding Election Day Ballot Initiatives

America made history Election Day as six more states got onboard with marijuana reform by passing legalization ballot initiatives. But those weren't the only ballot initiatives that Americans voted on. There were a lot of strange ones as well. Here's how they turned out.

1. California Plastic Bag Prohibition

Status: passed

Voters in the Golden State voted to prohibit single-use plastic bags by passing Proposition 67 (a.k.a the Plastic Bag Ban Veto Referendum).

The successful initiative - which was led by the American Progressive Bag Alliance - will ban retailers from bundling up purchases in non-reusable, non-biodegradable bags. Instead, they'll have to sell consumers more ecologically friendly bags at a cost of no less than 10 cents per bag.

To mourn the end of California's plastic bag era, we dusted off this clip from American Beauty (1999).

2. California: Mandatory Condoms

Status: failed

Groceries weren't the only bagging issue at stake in California. Voters also cast ballots on Proposition 60 (a.k.a. the Condoms in Pornographic Films Initiative), which would require performers in adult movies to wear condoms while filming sex scenes. The initiative would also oblige producers to pay for performers to get vaccinations, medical examinations and other health benefits.

Sounds great, right? Not according to the Democratic Party of California, or the state GOP, or the Libertarians or many other influential groups who campaigned against the bill, claiming it was so poorly written that it could lead to citizens suing each other for making sex tapes. Seriously.

In the official rebuttal to Prop 60, State Senator Mark Leno (D) warned that the initiative would create "an unprecedented LAWSUIT BONANZA" in which any California resident could sue a member of the porn industry for not following the new law. The Los Angeles Times coined the term "condom cops" to describe citizens who could profit from those lawsuits.

The initiative was defeated by a 54-46 percent margin after a successful "vote no" campaign that included an ingenious guerilla attack. Last month, several adult entertainment companies raised awareness on the issue by blocking Californians from accessing their websites.

Maybe taking away porn for a day could also improve America's woeful voter turnout.

3. Colorado: Slavery

Status: failed

The Civil War ended over 150 years ago. But slavery is still technically legal in Colorado - for prisoners. According to the state constitution, it is legal to subject convicts to forced, unpaid labor (i.e. slavery). 

Here's the exact wording in the constitution: "There shall never be in this state either slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted."

But that could change this week as the Centennial State finishes counting ballots for Amendment T, which would cut the "except as a punishment for crime..." clause from the constitution. That change would not have any effect on prison work programs, so the amendment isn't about changing the system: its about finally abolishing slavery in Colorado.

Seems like a no-brainer, right? Wrong. The initiative failed, though, with 50.4 percent voting against it.

As the ballots were being counted and it appeared the "no" side was winning, people expressed their dismay on Twitter.

4. Arkansas: Ending Coup d'États

Status: passed

Every state has a few quirks in its constitution. But Arkansas stands out because the state allows legal coups. Or at least it does until Issue 2 takes effect, modifying a 1914 constitutional amendment stipulating that the governor effectively loses power whenever she or he leaves state lines.

The old amendment says, "In the case of the impeachment of the Governor, or his or her...absence from the state, the powers and duties of the office, shall devolve up on the Lieutenant Governor for the residue of the term, or until the disability shall cease."

And that provision has caused trouble in the past. Back in 2013, then-Governor Mike Beebe (D) attended a National Governors Association meeting in Washington, D.C. While he was away, Lieutenant Governor Mark Darr (R) used his temporary powers to sign a gun bill into law that Beebe opposed.

Darr wasn't apologetic about the breach of decorum. "When I'm in charge, when I'm officially governor of Arkansas, and I was on Friday -- I look at it as my job and my duty to work for those citizens," he wrote on his government blog.

But that's not the case anymore. Arkansas voters passed Issue 2 by a margin of nearly 500,000 votes, allowing governors to retain power even while outside the Natural State. 

Now if only they could do something about their fire monster.

5. Indiana and Kansas: The Right to Hunt and Fish

Status: passed and passed

When you think of great human rights causes, the emancipation of slaves, suffragism and the 1960s Civil Rights movement probably come to mind first. The freedom to fish and hunt? Not so much. But those pastimes are now enshrined in the state constitutions of Indiana and Kansas

For the record, no one is trying to stop residents in either state from breaking out the tackle or packing a bowie knife. So critics of the hunting and fishing amendments have argued that the campaigns are, at best, unnecessary. And, at worse, a huge waste of time. 

"No sentient human being can believe that the state of Indiana would actually ban hunting and fishing," wrote the editorial board of the Journal Gazette. "From the beginning, this proposal has been a colossal waste of time and energy whose passage could work costly mischief with courts and regulators and trivialize a magnificent document [the state constitution]."

Voters overwhelmingly disagreed with that argument. In Kansas, the yeas outweighed the nays by over 700,000 votes. And the issue passed in Indiana by a spread of more than 1.5 million votes. So abolishing slavery in Colorado was a divisive issue, but making hunting and fishing a constitutional right was a no-brainer for voters.

But it might be a pyrrhic victory if the President-Elect Donald Trump remains committed to policies that could have devastating effects on the environment. Or maybe three-eyed fish will become the official state mutant of Vice President-Elect Mike Pence's home state.

h/t Politico


2020 presidential candidate Cory Booker (D-NJ) has announced a plan to grant clemency to thousands of people serving time for federal drug convictions. Last Thursday, Booker released his 'Restoring Justice' plan, which would offer clemency to more than 17,000 individuals who are currently doing time for nonviolent drug convictions. Booker pledged to implement the plan immediately upon taking office via an executive order as a means to address the huge disparities in drug policing.

Can we see some ID please?

You must be 19 years of age or older to enter.