Below the radar of the fight for control of Congress and state houses, voters in 37 states will decide on 155 ballot measures Tuesday that could have major impacts on everyday lives.
There are statewide measures increasing and decreasing gasoline taxes, legalizing marijuana use, and making it easier or harder to vote.
Others reflect concerns on the environment, such as a Colorado initiative that would increase the distance between oil and gas wells and populated areas.
Voters in four states—Idaho, Montana, Nebraska and Utah—will decide whether to join 33 others and the District of Columbia that have expanded access to Medicaid.
Here are some highlights of the issues up for a vote this Election Day:
Measures in Missouri and Utah would increase gasoline taxes to help fund transportation services and projects, while California would repeal a 12-cent-per-gallon increase in the gas tax enacted last year.
That state’s Proposition 6 has been embraced by Republicans as a way to turn back the second highest average gasoline prices and per-gallon tax in the nation. House Speaker Paul Ryan and other national Republican leaders gave money to put the measure on the ballot, in part, political observers say, to help motivate their party voters to turn out in a state with several close congressional races.
Opponents of Proposition 6 including Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown say the repeal would eliminate $5 billion of annual revenue needed to repair California’s dilapidated infrastructure.
Arkansas and North Carolina would join 17 other states in requiring voters show a photo identification in order to vote, while Maryland would help enable people to register to vote and cast a ballot the same day and Nevada would automatically register potential voters who visit a Department of Motor Vehicles office.
Republicans generally oppose the Maryland and Nevada proposals, arguing that, despite safeguards, some people ineligible to vote might be registered.
Democrats generally oppose the voter ID measures as imposing unjust restrictions on legal voters. Such laws have frequently faced legal challenges. The North Carolina and Arkansas ballot measures came after courts struck down voter-ID statutes passed by the legislatures in those states.
Michigan and North Dakota are seeking to become the first Midwestern states to legalize recreational use of marijuana, while Utah and Missouri are vying to join the 31 other states that have legalized it for medicinal use.
The pot measures have become issues in political races. Gretchen Whitmer, the Democratic candidate for governor of Michigan, supports her state joining nine others where recreational use is legal. Her Republican opponent, state Attorney General Bill Schuette, opposes it.
In Utah, Republican Mitt Romney and Democrat Jenny Wilson came out on opposite sides of the medical pot issue at a recent debate for a Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Orrin Hatch. Ms. Wilson supports the measure while Mr. Romney, 2012’s Republican presidential candidate, said he preferred for the legislature to deal with it.
A Louisiana measure would overturn a Jim Crow-era statute that allows a guilty verdict with the assent of 10 of 12 members jury members for many felonies. If passed, Louisiana would join all but one other state—Oregon—in requiring a unanimous guilty verdict.
The measure has drawn wide bipartisan support. Historians say the non-unanimous jury verdict law, which dates to the 19th century, was adopted primarily as a way to put African-Americans in prison and create a cheap labor pool for the state.
Florida voters, meanwhile, have a choice of whether to automatically restore voting rights for felons, except murderers or sexual offenders, upon completion of their punishments. The state is now one of four that don’t automatically restore those rights, leaving it up to the discretion of government officials.
Democrats including Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum—who is running for governor—support the measure, which would add as many as 1.6 million people to the voting rolls. Many Republicans oppose the change, including Mr. Gillum’s challenger, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.