Weed, abortion and LGBT rights: The issues Americans voted on

The 2018 US midterm elections wrapped up on Wednesday, and some of the issues Americans voted on might surprise you. 

The House of Representatives had all 435 seats up for grabs, along with 35 seats in the 100-member Senate, and 36 governorships. The results can be read here. But there were also proposed pieces of legislation to be approved or rejected by voters. 

These pieces of legislation are called ballot measures, also known as "propositions", which voters in each state can accept or reject with a "YES" or "NO" tick. Ballot measures are an example of direct democracy, in which people decide on policy initiatives directly as opposed to central government. 

Voters in 37 states voted on a total of 157 ballot measures on Election Day, Vox reports. The results will affect wide-ranging aspects of people's daily lives in those states. Below are some of the most intriguing outcomes. 


The issues Americans voted on ranged from abortion, to medicinal marijuana, gender identity, and religious freedom. The US state of West Virginia, for example, proposed a restriction on public abortion funding. It passed with 51.7 percent of people voting yes. 

The conservative southern state of Alabama proposed an amendment to the state's constitution to recognise the rights of unborn children and abolish the right to abortion and funding of it. The ballot passed with 59.2 percent of people voting yes. 

Oregon, a state known to be more liberal, also proposed a ban on public funding of abortion. The measure would prohibit using public funds directly for abortion or insurance covering abortion. In this case, the ballot did not pass, with 64.2 percent voting no. 


The US state of Utah offered a proposal to allow the use of medical marijuana for certain illnesses. The ballot passed with 53.2 percent voting yes, so some users will now be able to grow up to six cannabis plants for personal medical use.

In another marijuana vote, the state of Michigan has voted to allow recreational use for people aged 21 years and older. It will allow those in the state to grow up to 12 plants for personal consumption, and a 10 percent local tax would be included on all marijuana sales. 

North Dakota, however, voted against legalising recreational marijuana, with 59.9 percent of people voting against the suggested change. Opponents of proposed law change said it wasn't clear enough and did not have adequate detail about how the drug would be regulated. 

The US states which already allow recreational use of marijuana include Colorado, Alaska, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia and the Northern Mariana Islands. 

LGBT rights

The rights of LGBT people are a contentious issue in the United States ever since President Donald Trump signed a memorandum in March that banned most transgender individuals from serving in the US military. The issue came up in midterm ballot measures.  

The state of Massachusetts proposed a ban on gender identity discrimination. It would be an amendment to an existing 2016 law that added gender identity as part of laws that prohibit discrimination including on grounds of sex, religion, race and disability, in public areas. 

The law passed with 70.3 percent voting yes. It means any place with separate areas for men and women must allow full access for a person based on their preferred gender identity. 

It comes after President Trump's administration recently got rid of federal protections that allowed public school students to use bathrooms that corresponded with their gender identity. Transgender rights activists have said the administration is trying to push them out of existence. 

Respecting the Bible 

As well as recognising the rights of unborn children, people in Alabama have voted overwhelmingly to display the Ten Commandments of the Bible publicly. The proposal passed with 71.8 percent of voters saying yes to the amendment. 

It proposed changes to the state's constitution authorising the display of the Ten Commandments on state, public and school grounds. The proposal also calls for the provision of certain religious rights and liberties. 

"This is a big deal. It's a huge deal," said Dean Young, the chief advocate for the amendment. "The highest levels across the nation in government are watching what Alabama is doing," he told AL.com

Another interesting ballot measure involved California voting against a proposal to remove any future fuel tax or vehicle fee increases unless voters agree. It's an issue New Zealanders can relate to, with fuel prices the highest they've ever been.