A 50-State Guide to the 2012 Election

By now, you most likely know who you’re voting for in the presidential election. You probably have an idea of who to vote for in your local congressional race and for the Senate if one of your state’s seats is being re-elected this year. When it comes to local elections, though, it can be harder to find information about who’s running, and ballot initiatives or propositions can be even more confusing (especially since they’re frequently worded in such a way as to be either deliberately ambiguous or to have inadvertent side effects). Below, you’ll find links to the official election guides and Ballotpedia pages for all 50 states plus DC, info on all Senate races and some significant House races, details on most of the ballot initiatives being decided across the country this week, and links to alternate voting plans for some states affected by Hurricane Sandy.
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ALABAMA 

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Alabama has ten statewide initiatives on the ballot, along with numerous amendments specific to a particular county. Notably, a yes vote on Amendment 6 would repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Amendment 4 is the tricky one, however.

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to repeal portions of Amendment 111, now appearing as Section 256 of the Official Recompilation of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, relating to separation of schools by race and to repeal Section 259, Amendment 90, and Amendment 109, relating to the poll tax. (Proposed by Act 2011-353)

Removing racially charged language sounds great, right? Too bad it technically removes the right to a public education in Alabama. Despite assurances that it won’t really be enforced that way, educators are encouraging people to vote no, fearing school funding could be cut drastically if it passes.



ALASKA

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Alaska has two initiatives on the ballot. Bonding Proposition A would issue bonds for transportation projects. Ballot Measure 1 would decide if there should be a new constitutional convention (which is constitutionally required to be on the ballot every ten years there hasn’t been one).



ARIZONA

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Senate: Incumbent Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R) is retiring; Richard Carmona (D) and Jeff Flake (R) are vying to fill the seat.

Arizona has nine initiatives on the ballot. Proposition 114 would prevent crime victims from being sued if they injure the person committing a crime against them. It’s pretty widely supported, though there are fears that it goes too far and that that the judiciary is smart enough to handle these cases appropriately (if, you know, it ever actually happened). Proposition 120 would give Arizona sole control over the state’s natural resources. Opponents fear that it would mean an end to federal funding for national parks such as the Grand Canyon, would allow the state to ignore federal pollution standards, and that it may even violate the U.S. Constitution.



ARKANSAS

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Arkansas has five initiatives on the ballot. Issues 3 and 4, both related to casinos, will appear on the ballot but votes will not be tabulated due to a ruling by the state’s supreme court. The biggie here is Issue 5, on which a yes vote would legalize medical marijuana.



CALIFORNIA

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Senate: Incumbent Diane Feinstein (D) is being challenged by Elizabeth Emken (R).
House of Representatives: California’s Top Two Primaries Act went into effect this year, meaning many districts have candidates from the same party facing off. There was also drastic redistricting since the last election, meaning many incumbents are running in new districts. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D) will be running in the 12th district against John Dennis (R) (12th District incumbent Jackie Speier (D) is running in the 14th now). Pelosi’s old district, the 8th, now has two Republicans on the ballot.

California has 11 initiatives on the ballot. Three, the 30th, 38th, and 39, would enact income tax increases. Prop 32 would ban corporations and unions from contributing to state and local political candidates. Prop 34 would end the death penalty; Prop 35 would increase penalties for human trafficking and sex slavery; Prop 36 modifies the state’s three strikes law to eliminate the automatic life sentence for less-serious, non-violent felonies. Proposition 37 would mandate the labeling of genetically modified food.



COLORADO

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Colorado has three initiatives on the ballot, including Amendment 64, which would legalize recreational marijuana use.



CONNECTICUT

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Senate: Incumbent Joe Lieberman (I) is retiring; Chris Murphy (D) and Linda McMahon (R) are vying to fill the seat.

Connecticut has no statewide initiatives on the ballot this year, though many towns do.

Many polling sites in Connecticut lost power due to Hurricane Sandy; no plans have been made yet to move or consolidate polling sites but you can check the press releases from the Secretary of State for updates.



DELAWARE

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Senate: Incumbent Tom Carper (D) is being challenged by Kevin Wade (R).

Delaware has no initiatives on the ballot this year.



DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Washington, D.C. has three proposed charter amendments this year. Amendment V would allow the Council to expel members for gross misconduct, while Amendments VI and VII would disqualify people convicted of felonies from being on the Council or Mayor, respectively.



FLORIDA

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Senate: Incumbent Bill Nelson (D) is being challenged by Connie Mack (R).
House of Representatives: Redistricting has moved many incumbents to new districts.

Florida has 11 initiatives on the ballot. Amendment 1 would prevent the implementation of parts of the ACA. Amendment 5 gives the state legislature more control over the judiciary. Amendment 6 prohibits the use of state funds for abortion in most cases. Amendment 8 would allow state funds to go to religious organizations; for more on what that really means, see our previous coverage of it.



GEORGIA

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

House of Representatives: Paul “Lies straight from the pit of Hell” Broun (R) is running unopposed in the 10th District. A movement is underway to have voters write in Charles Darwin in his place.

Georgia has two initiatives on the ballot. Amendment 1 would allow the state legislature to approve charter schools over the objection of local school districts. It’s largely opposed by educators in the state.



HAWAII

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Senate: Incumbent Daniel Akaka (D) is retiring; Mazie Hirono (D) and Linda Lingle (R) are vying to fill the seat.

Hawaii has two initiatives on the ballot. One would allow the state issue bonds to help dam and reservoir owners meet federal safety standards and the other would allow retired judges to fill temporary vacancies in the state courts.



IDAHO

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Idaho has five initiatives on the ballot. HJR 2 would amend the state constitution to make hunting, fishing, and (most controversially) trapping constitutional rights in the state. Many are opposed to the inclusion of trapping, and there are fears that unrestricted hunting and fishing could hamper conservation efforts. More controversial are Propositions 1, 2, and 3, which would strike down various education laws passed recently. They’re somewhat confusing in that they’re being referred to as “veto referendums,” but you have to vote no to veto the laws, which weaken unions and some fear could lead to the firing of up to a quarter of Idaho’s teachers.



ILLINOIS

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

HJRCA 49 is the only amendment on the ballot in Illinois. It would require future increases in benefits in the public pension or retirement systems to be passed by a 3/5 majority instead of a simple majority. Supporters say it would help curtail runaway unfunded spending, while opponents point out that all the recent increases passed with far more than 3/5 of the vote (so it wouldn’t have changed the current problems at all) and that it also could make it harder for unions to negotiate benefits.



INDIANA

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Senate: Incumbent Richard Luger lost the Republican primary to Richard “pregnancy by rape is something God intended to happen” Mourdock, who is being challenged by Joe Donnelly (D).

Indiana has no initiatives on the ballot this year.



IOWA

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

House of Representatives: Iowa lost a seat after the last census. The current incumbents in the 3rd and 4th districts, Leonard Boswell (D) and Tom Latham (R) are competing in the new 3rd district to stay in Congress. Meanwhile, Steve King (R) from the defunct 5th district is now running in the 4th against former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack.

Iowa has no initiatives on the ballot this year.



KANSAS

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

HCR 5017 is the only initiative on the Kansas ballot; it would allow the state to change the way boats are taxed.



KENTUCKY

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

House Bill 1 is the only initiative on the Kentucky ballot; it would amend the state constitution to guarantee the right to hunt and fish in the state. It’s worded better than the similar bill in Idaho in that it does stipulate that conservation laws would be protected, but opponents fear it could lead to difficulty enacting gun control in the future.



LOUISIANA

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

House of Representatives: Louisiana uses a blanket primary system, in which all of the candidates, regardless of party, compete for the first time in the November election. If anyone garners more than 50% of the vote, he or she is declared the victor; otherwise, a runoff is held in December between the top two vote-getters.

Louisiana has nine initiatives on the ballot. Amendment 1 would protect the state’s Medicaid trust fund budget from being cut. Amendment 2 would strengthen gun rights. Amendment 5 would allow the legislature to take away the state pension of any elected official who commits a felony related to their office.



MAINE

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Senate: Incumbent Olympia Snowe (R) is retiring, leading to a three-way race between Cynthia Dill (D), Charles Summers (R), and former governor Angus King, who’s an Independent and hasn’t announced which party he would caucus with if elected.

Maine has five initiatives on the ballot. Question 1 would overturn the state’s current ban on gay marriage.



MARYLAND

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Senate: Incumbent Ben Cardin (D) is being challenged by Dan Bongino (R).

Maryland has seven initiatives on the ballot. Question 3 changes how elected officials convicted of felonies are removed from office. Question 4 would guarantee that illegal immigrants could get in-state tuition rates in college. Question 6 would legalize same-sex marriage, but explicitly would not require religions to recognize them or clergy to perform them.



MASSACHUSETTS

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Senate: Incumbent Scott Brown (R), who won the seat in a special election after the death of Senator Ted Kennedy, is being challenged by Elizabeth Warren (D).

House of Representatives:  Massachusetts lost a House seat after the last census, leading to statewide redistricting. Barney Frank (D) decided to retire rather than campaign to a new set of voters in the 4th district, so Joseph Kennedy III (D) and Sean Bielat (R) are competing to replace him.

Massachusetts has three initiatives on the ballot. Question 2, the “Death with Dignity” initiative, would legalize doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients. Question 3 would legalize medical marijuana use.



MICHIGAN

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Senate: Incumbent Debbie Stabenow (D) is being challenged by Pete Hoekstra (R).

Michigan has six initiatives on the ballot. Proposal 1 would allow the governor to appoint Emergency Managers to act in place of local elected officials. Proposal 2 would grant collective bargaining rights to public and private employees, while Proposal 4 would give limited collective bargaining rights to home healthcare workers. Proposal 3 would require that the state get 25% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025. Proposal 5 would require state tax increases to be approved by either a 2/3 majority in the legislature or by a statewide vote. Proposal 6 would require voter approval of the use of state funds in the construction of any new bridges or tunnels to Canada. Supporters, including Grover Norquist, say those projects are better left to private industry, while opponents say that the proposal is merely trying to protect the monopoly one company has on truck crossings and that it would make all future projects unnecessarily complicated.



MINNESOTA

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Senate: Incumbent Amy Klobuchar (D) is being challenged by Kurt Bills (R).
House of Representatives: Incumbent Michele Bachmann (R) is being challenged by Jim Graves (D).

Minnesota has two initiatives on the ballot. Amendment 1 bans same-sex marriage, and the passage of Amendment 2 would require voters to present a photo ID in future elections.



MISSISSIPPI

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Senate: Incumbent Roger Wicker (R) is being challenged by Albert N. Gore, Jr. (D) (no relation to the former VP).

Mississippi has no initiatives on the ballot this year.



MISSOURI

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Senate: Incumbent Claire McCaskill (D) is being challenged by Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin (R).

Missouri has four initiatives on the ballot. Amendment 3 gives the governor authority to appoint four of seven members (up from three) of the commission that chooses judicial nominees. Proposition A would transfer oversight of the St. Louis police force from a commission appointed by the governor to city authorities. Proposition B would increase the tobacco tax. Proposition E would prevent the governor from setting up health care exchanges, and would instead require them to be set up by the legislature, a ballot initiative, or a veto referendum.



MONTANA

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Senate: Incumbent Jon Tester (D) is being challenged by Denny Rehberg (R).

Montana has five initiatives on the ballot. LR-120 would require parental permission for minors under the age of 16 to receive an abortion, except in medical emergencies or by order of the youth court. Anyone performing an abortion in violation of this statute or anyone coercing a minor to get an abortion without permission would be subject to criminal prosecution and civil liability. LR-121 requires proof of citizenship to anyone seeking state-funded services. Every application would have to be run through federal databases, leading to fears that citizens could be denied services along with illegal immigrants. LR-122 would exempt citizens from the ACA’s requirement that they purchase health insurance. IR-124 would replace the state’s previous medical marijuana law with much more stringent requirements. I-166 would ban corporate contributions to political campaigns because corporations are not people.



NEBRASKA

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Senate: Incumbent Ben Nelson is retiring, with former Bob Kerrey (D) (a former governor who previously served in the Senate from 1989-2001) and Deb Fischer (R) vying to replace him.

Nebraska has four initiatives on the ballot. Amendment 1 would allow for the impeachment of state elected officials who commit misdemeanors during the election. Amendment 2 would guarantee the right to hunt and fish in the state. Amendment 3 would increase term limits for state legislators from two terms to three, while Amendment 4 would increase their salaries from $12,000/year to $22,500/year.



NEVADA

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Senate: Incumbent Dean Heller (R) is being challenged by Shelley Berkley (D).

Question 1 is the only initiative on the ballot in Nevada; it would allow legislators to petition for a special session.



NEW HAMPSHIRE

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

New Hampshire has three initiatives on the ballot. CACR 13 would ban the state from implementing any future income taxes. ConCon asks if the state should call a new constitutional convention; the state constitution requires this question to be put on the ballot every ten years.



NEW JERSEY

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Senate: Incumbent Bob Menendez (D) is being challenged by Joe Kyrillos (R).

New Jersey has two initiatives on the ballot. Public Question 1 would allow the state to issue bonds for $750 million to upgrade state colleges. Public Question 2 would allow the state to increase the amount judges have to contribute to their pensions.

Due to Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey residents will be able to vote by email or fax this year.



NEW MEXICO

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Senate: Incumbent Jeff Bingaman (D) is retiring; Martin Heinrich (D) and Heather Wilson (R) are vying to fill the seat.

New Mexico has eight initiatives on the ballot. Bond Questions A, B, and C would raise funds to improve senior facilities, for library acquisitions, and for improvements in higher education.



NEW YORK

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Senate: Incumbent Kirsten Gillibrand (D) is being challenged by Wendy Long (R).

New York has no initiatives on the ballot this year.

Some poll sites have been moved due to flooding and/or power outages; check here for updates.



NORTH CAROLINA

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

North Carolina has no initiatives on the ballot this November.



NORTH DAKOTA

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Senate: Incumbent Kent Conrad (D) is retiring; Heidi Heitcamp (D) and Rick Berg (R) are vying to fill the seat.

North Dakota has five initiatives on the ballot. Measure 1 would revoke the ability to establish a poll tax and remove offensive language from the constitutions. Measure 4 bans smoking at indoor workplaces. Measures 3 and 5 relate to animal rights; Measure 3 would ban laws restricting farming or ranching practices, which some fear could legalize torture of farm animals, while Measure 5 would make cruelty against cats, dogs, and horses a felony (with exceptions for vets, lab researchers, and some others).



OHIO

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Senate: Incumbent Sherrod Brown (D) is being challenged by Josh Mandel (R).
House of Representatives: Speaker of the House John Boehner is running unopposed in the 8th District.

Ohio has two initiatives on the ballot. Issue 1 asks if there should be a new constitutional convention; this must appear on the ballot every 20 years. Issue 2 changes the redistricting procedure.



OKLAHOMA

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Oklahoma has six initiatives on the ballot. Two are related to property taxes; State Question 758 would cap property tax increases to 3% per year and 766 abolishes property taxes on intangible assets such as patents, trademarks, and computer software (opponents fear both will lead to either decreased tax dollars for schools or increases in other taxes for homeowners). State Question 759 would ban affirmative action in the state. State Question 765 would abolish certain Human Services divisions and offices and leave the care of elderly and the needy to the legislature (or a new department if one was created by a future ballot initiative).



OREGON

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Oregon has nine initiatives on the ballot. Measure 78 may be the nerdiest amendment of the year, as it would modernize the spelling, terminology, and grammar of the constitution and add gender-neutral terms to replace masculine pronouns throughout. Measure 80 legalizes marijuana use with some restrictions.



PENNSYLVANIA

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Senate: Incumbent Bob Casey, Jr. (D) is being challenged by Tom Smith (R).

Pennsylvania has no initiatives on the ballot this year.



RHODE ISLAND

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Senate: Incumbent Sheldon Whitehouse (D) is being challenged by Barry Hinckley (R).

Rhode Island has seven initiatives on the ballot. Questions 1 and 2 are related to casino gambling, while Questions 3-7 are bond initiatives for various projects.



SOUTH CAROLINA

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Amendment 1 is the only initiative on the South Carolina Ballot; it would have candidates for Governor select a running mate for Lieutenant Governor instead of voting for the offices separately and would have the Senate select the President of the Senate instead of it being the Lt. Gov.



SOUTH DAKOTA

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

South Dakota has seven initiatives on the ballot. Constitutional Amendment P would require the state to have a balanced budget. Referred Law 16 would change education policy; a yes vote would eliminate teacher tenure, set up a “merit bonus” system and a state-wide system to grade teachers, and provide incentives for students to get teaching certificates, while a no vote would block the law (most educators are opposed to the changes).



TENNESSEE

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Senate: Incumbent Bob Corker (R) is being challenged by Mark Clayton (D).

Tennessee has no initiatives on the ballot this year.



TEXAS

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Senate: Incumbent Kay Bailey Hutchison is retiring; Paul Sadler (D) and Ted Cruz (R) are vying to fill the seat.

Texas has no initiatives on the ballot this year.



UTAH

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Senate: Incumbent Orrin Hatch (R) is being challenged by Scott Howell (D).

Utah has two initiatives on the ballot this year. Amendment B would exempt military personnel from paying property taxes.



VERMONT

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Senate: Incumbent Bernie Sanders (D) is being challenged by John MacGovern (R).

Vermont has no initiatives on the ballot this year.



VIRGINIA

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Senate: Incumbent Jim Webb (D) is retiring; Tim Kaine (D) and George Allen (R) are vying to fill the seat.

Virginia has two initiatives on the ballot. Question 1 would limit the use of eminent domain to seize private property.



WASHINGTON

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Senate: Incumbent Maria Cantwell (D) is being challenged by Michael Baumgartner (R).

Washington has eight initiatives on the ballot. Referendum 74 would legalize same-sex marriage. Initiative 502 would legalize marijuana use in people 21 and older.



WEST VIRGINIA

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Senate: Incumbent Joe Manchin (D) is being challenged by John Raese (R).

Amendment 1 is the only initiative on the West Virginia ballot; it would end term limits for county sheriffs.



WISCONSIN

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Senate: Incumbent Herb Kohl (D) is retiring; Tammy Baldwin (D) and Tommy Thompson (R) are vying to fill the seat.
House of Representatives: Paul Ryan (R) is still running for his seat in the 1st District despite being Romney’s running mate; he’s being challenged by Rob Zerban (D).

Wisconsin has no initiatives on the ballot this year.



WYOMING

(Official voter info page) (Ballotpedia)

Senate: Incumbent John Barrasso (R) is being challenged by Tim Chesnut (D).

Wyoming has three initiatives on the ballot. Constitutional Amendment A would exempt the state from the ACA mandate. Constitutional Amendement B would protect the right to hunt and fish in the state.

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[E] Hillary

Hillary is a giant nerd and former Mathlete. She once read large swaths of "Why Evolution is True" and a geology book aloud to her infant daughter, in the hopes of a) instilling a love of science in her from a very young age and b) boring her to sleep. After escaping the wilds of Waco, Texas and spending the next decade in NYC, she currently lives in upstate New York, where she misses being able to get decent pizza and Chinese takeout delivered to her house. She lost on Jeopardy.

10 thoughts on “A 50-State Guide to the 2012 Election”

  1. Indiana actually had three ballot initiatives, but they were all about whether or not to keep three judges on the bench. I couldn’t find any reason for them not to be on the bench, as there was absolutely zero press (that I could find) about why we would consider tossing them out.

    Also, this is a bloody brilliant post, Hillz. I am so glad you did this, I’m telling you in front of god and everybody how brilliant I think you are.

    1. Crap, I couldn’t find those anywhere on Ballotpedia or the Indiana board of elections page. Sneaky little fuckers.

      And thank you! Of course it had barely gone up when my husband emailed me the New York Times version of this and I started cursing at my computer. They didn’t have links! They had multiple writers! Bastards.

  2. Nice roundup!

    I already mailed in my ballot weeks ago, so the constant polling phone calls are annoying. “Have you voted early?”
    “Yes.”
    “In the Senate race, will you vote for John Tester or Denny Rehberg?”
    “Tester.”
    “Are you very likely or probably likely?”

    … Didn’t I just tell you I already voted?

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