The NY Times reports:
In Texas, voters were in a spending mood on Tuesday. In New Jersey and Oregon, they were not.
Five statewide bond initiatives were approved by Texas residents this week, including $3 billion for cancer research and prevention that was championed by Lance Armstrong and up to $5 billion for highway improvement projects.
But in New Jersey voters rejected $450 million in new spending for stem cell research, and in Oregon they blocked a plan for increased taxes for health care.
Backing an effort for increased fiscal restraint, Washington residents approved statewide measures to require a two-thirds vote by the Legislature for fee increases and a constitutional amendment requiring that 1 percent of general state revenue for each fiscal year be placed in a budget stabilization account.
Heading the other direction, voters in Maine approved a total of $134 million in bonds for research and development, campus improvements and land conservation.
Isolated voting problems were reported in Colorado, Georgia, Maryland and Pennsylvania because of a combination of poll worker error and machine failures.
Contests in three states offered clues to how certain hot-button issues might play in the 2008 presidential race.
In Virginia, concerns about illegal immigration did not produce the voter turnout and fervor that Republicans sought. The state has become a national testing ground for some of the strictest anti-immigration policies, and Republican lawmakers promised to crack down with plans in some counties to deny services to illegal immigrants.
But Democrats picked up four seats in the State Senate, to take the majority for the first time in more than a decade. They also gained three seats in the House, cutting into the Republican majority.
In Utah, voters resoundingly rejected a school voucher program that was supported by the Republican governor and Republican-controlled Legislature. The measure was controversial because, rather than focusing on low-income students in poor-performing schools, the program would have been available to families regardless of income or school performance.
Supporters said the measure would widen options for parents, but critics, including national teachers unions, faulted it as undercutting money for public education. Had the measure been approved, political strategists say, it would probably have been pushed in other Republican-leaning states next year.
Oregon voters approved a measure that curbs the land-use rights of developers of subdivisions and industrial and commercial sites. Supporters of the measure, especially environmental groups, raised twice as much money as opponents, who received most of their money from timber companies and related interests.
Property rights measures that empowered large landowners were blocked in 2006 in California, Idaho and Washington but passed in Arizona, according to the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, a liberal advocacy group that tracks ballot trends.
Plenty of new spending was approved on local initiatives. For example, voters in Mecklenburg County, N.C., home of Charlotte, approved $582 million in municipal bonds for public school construction, community colleges and open-space projects.
County and city voters in Denver approved $430 million in bonds for transportation, parks, cultural centers, public safety and libraries.
For poll workers in some counties, low turnouts prevented voting problems from escalating.
The most serious failures occurred in Rockville, Md., where thousands of voters were mistakenly identified as having already voted by absentee ballot when they arrived at the polls. Poll workers kept handwritten lists of the names of everyone who voted. To ensure that no one voted twice, they said they planned to compare the list to the names of those who cast absentee ballots.
More than 60 touch-screen machines failed in Marion County, Ind., for several hours, possibly because of battery problems or the memory cards’ being inserted upside-down, election officials said.
Voting officials in southwest Fulton County, Ga., received court approval on Tuesday afternoon to extend the voting day by an hour after machines did not work because of poll workers’ error, election officials said. Eighteen to 30 voters left without voting before the machines were repaired.
Voters in Weld County, Colo., were given paper ballots for about an hour in the morning until officials repaired a handful of voting machines.
When poll workers in Denver starting falling behind deadline in counting ballots, the county called in several dozen SWAT and other police officers to help. Election officials said the police had assisted in past elections because they had undergone the background checks required to count votes.
Technicians in Bedford County, Pa., had to visit all 40 precincts to repair every optical scanning machine used to read ballots.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
The NY Times reports: