- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 3, 2004

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Arizona voters yesterday approved a measure to restrict state aid to illegal immigrants.

Official returns showed 54 percent of the state’s voters in favor of Proposition 200, formally titled the Arizona Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act, with 91 percent of precincts reporting.

The measure was promoted by supporters as a way to curtail fraud by requiring proof of immigration status when obtaining certain government services. It would punish state workers who looked the other way.

Arizona is the busiest entry point for illegals on the U.S.-Mexico border, and spends millions of dollars annually to provide food stamps, welfare and other social services to illegal immigrants.

In other ballot measures across the nation, Florida voters overwhelmingly approved a state constitutional amendment authorizing lawmakers to require parental notification of a minor’s abortion. By a margin of 65 percent to 35 percent, voters passed the measure, which supporters had added to the ballot in response to Florida courts that had twice struck down legislation to require such notification.

Floridians also overwhelmingly voted — 70 percent to 29 percent — to raise the state’s minimum wage to $6.15 an hour, a dollar higher than the federal minimum wage.

More than 60 percent of Colorado voters rejected an initiative to immediately change the way the state’s electoral votes are awarded to presidential candidates, a proposal critics feared could have thrown the national election results into the courts.

The proposal would have scrapped Colorado’s winner-take-all system for its nine electoral votes, making it the third state to divide those votes based on the popular vote. If approved, it would have affected this year’s election.

Critics said the measure would have made Colorado a political backwater with effectively only one electoral vote up for grabs because most presidential elections are close. They had promised a court challenge if the plan had passed.

“It’s a statewide election and there’s a winner and a loser,” said Katy Atkinson, leader of Coloradans Against a Really Stupid Idea, a group that opposed the measure. “What Amendment 36 proposes to do is give a consolation prize to the loser. We don’t do that in any other election.”

In all, 163 measures were on the ballots in 34 states. Major topics included gambling, tobacco taxes, medical malpractice, election reform and marijuana.

Alaska would become the first state to decriminalize marijuana if voters approved Ballot Measure 2, allowing adults to use, grow and sell marijuana under regulations to be adopted by the Legislature. Federal drug czar John Walters denounced the measure; supporters defended it as a sensible alternative to existing drug policies.

Elsewhere, if voters approved, Montana would become the 10th state to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, and Oregon would expand its existing medical-marijuana program.

In California and Washington, voters could replace party primaries with open primaries in which the top two finishers, regardless of affiliation, would advance to the general election.

California had 16 measures on its ballot, more than any other state. None generated more controversy nationally than the proposal to provide $3 billion over 10 years to conduct human embryonic stem-cell research.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, endorsed the measure, putting him at odds with the state Republican Party and perhaps the Bush administration, which has limited federal funding of such research. Mr. Schwarzenegger’s fellow movie star Mel Gibson was among those speaking out against the proposal, calling it unethical.

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