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US Election Day in 2013: Yes to Gambling, No to Tax Increase

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Initiative and Referendum in the US. Image by Ballotpedia (slightly modified)

US Election Day in 2013: Yes to Gambling, No to Tax Increase


With less spotlight in Europe compared to one year ago, when US President Obama was re-elected, this year’s Election Day invited US Americans to fill some vacant seats of US Congress, to elect public executives and to compose parliaments of different US states. In terms of direct democracy, 31 ballot measures were up for decision at federal level in six states, while there were 111 ballot measures at local level. In the United States, Election Day annually occurs on the first Tuesday in November.

A “ballot measure” or “proposition” (briefly called “prop”) is the term used for constitutional amendments that were directly initiated by citizens, following the collection of signatures. Ballot measures exist in 38 US states, whereas for example Texas, New York or Wisconsin do not know these forms of direct democracy. Propositions are systematically numbered by the states. The assigned digit then often become the synonym for the issue at stake.

This year the most notable ballot measures at state level were decided on:

-    the requirement to label genetically-modified food in the state of Washington ("Ballot Measure 522");
-    the raise of Colorado’s income tax to bring in a total of $950 million to be spent on education (Amendment 66);
-    the creation of a new fund for water projects to be gained from the states’ “Rainy Day Fund” in Texas (Prop. 6");
-    the increase of the minimum wage in the state of New Jersey from $7.2 to $8.25 per hour (Public question 2);
-    allowing casino gambling in the state of New York (Proposal 1).

According to preliminary results all initiatives were voted in favour except of Amendment 66: In Colorado, two thirds of voters disapproved the initiative to increase taxes for public education.

Overall, 2013 was a year with an unusually low number on the ballot. Historically, elections on odd-numbered years (= years when no Presidential/ Congress elections are held) see approximately 45 measures on the ballot. Last year, when the US Presidential elections took place on the same day, 176 citizen-initiated “propositions” or “ballot measures” were decided on in 38 US states.

More Information
on all ballot measures and its results  are provided by Ballotpedia, a non-profit and non-partisan encyclopaedia at

Text by Cora Pfafferott


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