6. Alabama segregation. For the second time in eight years, voters in Alabama will have an opportunity to delete from their state constitution an explicit reference to racial segregation in public schools. The language currently on the books, a vestige of the state's dubious history of interposition, states:
To avoid confusion and disorder and to promote effective and economical planning for education, the legislature may authorize the parents or guardians of minors, who desire that such minors shall attend schools provided for their own race, to make election to that end, such election to be effective for such period and to such extent as the legislature may provide.
It seems simple. But it's not. Many Democrats and school administrators believe the initiative would make matters worse. And speaking of which, Alabama voters will get a chance again on Tuesday to choose or reject for the judiciary Roy Moore, the infamous former state supreme court justice who once defied a federal court order forcing him to remove the Ten Commandments monument he had ordered built at the state's supreme court.
7. Abortion. In Florida, voters will confront Amendment 6, a measure that seeks to limit interpretation of the privacy rights contained in the state's constitution. In Montana, voters face LR-120, which involves parental-notification rules. In Oklahoma, a "personhood" measure that would have criminalized abortion was rejected as unconstitutional by the state's supreme court before it could make it onto the ballot. In case you were wondering, following a campaign where abortion and reproductive rights were issues, this isn't much different than 2010, when there were also three similiar measures (in Alaska, Colorado, and Missouri).
8. Health Care. Silly you, you thought the Supreme Court's decision in June to uphold the Affordable Care Act meant the end of legal challenges to the federal health care law. Wrong. New litigation has been filed. And voters in five states -- Alabama, Florida, Missouri, Montana and Wyoming -- will have the opportunity on Tuesday to weigh in with their views of the obligations contained in the Care Act. The gist of each of these measures is made clear in the simple language of Wyoming's proposed Amendment A:
The adoption of this amendment will provide that the right to make health care decisions is reserved to the citizens of the state of Wyoming. It permits any person to pay and any health care provider to receive direct payment for services
9. Three-strikes. Back to California for Proposition 36, which would reduce the scope of the state's notorious three-strikes law in an effort to clear overcrowded prisons there of more non-violent offenders. Like Proposition 34, the popularity of this initiative is owed perhaps as much to the budget savings the state would see from it as it is from the fact that the existing "three-strikes" law has resulted in terrible injustice to some Californians. If it passes -- and it was up in the polls the last time I checked -- it will be the clearest signal yet that states are serious about adjusting their views of the harsh costs of our prison society.
10. Death with dignity. Voters in Massachusetts face Question 2, which upon approval would mean a new state law "allowing a physician licensed in Massachusetts to prescribe medication, at the request of a terminally-ill patient meeting certain conditions, to end that person's life." The measure has been consistently in front in polling although its margin has slipped in the past few weeks. It's an important moment for supporters of a "right to die." It's been long enough for them to have comforting research on how Oregon's landmark law has worked. But they've struggled to translate that information into legislative success.
*In Iowa, it's a retention year for Justice David Wiggins, the lone jurist remaining from the 2010 voter purge that kicked three Iowa Supreme Court justices off the bench for a ruling they wrote which recognized same-sex marriage. The beneficiary of good timing more than anything else, it appears that Justice Wiggins may survive a coordinated effort this year to oust him.
** Four states! I forgot to include Minnesota's Amendment One, which defines marriage as solely between a man and a woman.