Nation: Changing the Rules

They were crammed onto the ballots by men who could inscribe the Gettysburg Address on the head of a pin. They were couched in legal jargon that boggled the brain. U.S. voters struggled mightily to decipher and decide upon propositions to outlaw gambling, legalize liquor, install traffic lights, enlarge cities and amend state constitutions. In the hullabaloo over the 1962 election fights, the decisions on these propositions were often ignored. But in many states, what won may turn out to be even more important than who won.

In half a dozen states, thorny fights were waged between rural and urban voters about...

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