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US Voters Went to the Polls to Vote for More than President

In addition to the presidential race, there were more than 20,000 local and state races. And in 34 states, voters went to the polls to decide a number of ballot initiatives. Kathie Scarrah reports.

The most contentious initiative was on the ballot in eleven states, many of them key battleground states. It was a measure defining marriage as only between a man and a woman, effectively banning gay marriages. Ten states overwhelmingly approved the initiative. They were strongly supported by the Republican Party to encourage votes from religious and social conservatives who are solid supporters of President Bush. .

Kristina Wilfore, of the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, a Washington, DC based nonpartisan organization that monitors the ballot initiative process, says the gay marriage ban was one of several initiatives that resulted in higher voter turnout in the states where it was on the ballot.


"I think this year particularly the initiatives that have the most impact are the ones that have some kind of partisan aspect to them. That they are either affecting a competitive Senate race or House race or at the legislative level with candidates. Or they will affect the Presidential in the larger scheme. And there's a couple of measures where that's at play."

The Democratic Party hoped to get out their supporters with an initiative on the California ballot that would fund embryonic stem cell research. The initiative was overwhelmingly approved.

Voters in the western state of Colorado voted on election reform where they rejected an initiative which would split the state's nine Electoral College votes according to the percentage of the popular vote won by each candidate. Only the states of Maine and Nebraska currently split their Electoral College vote in any way. In all others it's winner takes all.

The states of Florida and Nevada, states that employ large numbers of immigrant workers, voted on raising the minimum wage. The initiatives were approved. And finally, Montana became the 10th state to legalize marijuana for medical purposes.