The Votes That Really Count

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Although there were more states making this choice in 2004, the New Jersey Supreme Court"s October ruling that the state must give gay couples the same legal rights as straight couples has brought more attention to the upcoming votes. But some say it won"t make a difference in the minds of voters who are convinced one way or the other.

"I'm not sure [the New Jersey ] decision will have much impact in changing the voting," says Pamela Johnston Conover, a professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. But she warns that how voters do choose, based on the language on the ballots, could have a far-reaching effect effect on legal rights for same-sex couples. "Most of the ballots have components that go beyond the marriage issue. If passed, they have the potential to have a more wide-sweeping impact on gay and lesbian couples than the ballot initiatives that only look at same-sex marriage."

States Voting: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin.


Continuing an ongoing series of appearances in the political and legal arena, tobacco will again be on the minds and ballots of voters in seven states. Choices will range from statewide smoking bans to cigarette and tobacco taxes and even decisions on how to use the money won in the 1998 multi-state tobacco settlement, which are expected to amount to $246 billion over a 25-year period.

Arizona, Ohio and Nevada have the more interesting smoking ban initiatives because voters will have to choose between competing proposals. Some are sponsored by organizations representing hotels, casinos and restaurants because they are less restrictive and accommodate gamblers who do smoke. Others are represented by health care interests. But to date, only Florida and Washington have approved statewide smoking bans. California rejected the measure in both 1978 and 1994.

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