- Associated Press - Monday, November 7, 2016

BOSTON (AP) - Much of the suspense coming from Massachusetts on Election Day is likely to center around four ballot questions, including one that would that would legalize recreational marijuana for adults.

A proposal asking whether to allow up to a dozen new or expanded charter schools each year outside of current state caps has also been fiercely contested. Voters are also being asked whether to ban the sale of eggs and other food products from farms where animals are held in overly restrictive cages, and whether to authorize a possible gambling facility near Suffolk Downs.

More than 1 million of the state’s roughly 4.5 million registered voters cast ballots during the state’s first-ever early voting period that ended last Friday.

Here’s a closer look at the election in Massachusetts:

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GOING FOR POT?

Advocates for the legalization of recreational marijuana around the country will be watching the results of Question 4 closely. Should Massachusetts and Maine, which is also voting Tuesday, legalize pot, they would be the first states on the East Coast to do so. Proponents suggest that could help build momentum toward an eventual easing of federal restrictions on the drug. Opponents of legalization in Massachusetts contend the ballot question was written largely by - and for - the multibillion-dollar marijuana industry and poses numerous public health and safety risks.

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BAKER’S CHARTER FIGHT

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has lately emerged as the chief spokesman for charter school proponents in Massachusetts. He’s been featured in TV and radio ads, penned op-eds for local newspapers and appeared at rallies in support of Question 2. His pitch: Approval will provide families more alternatives to failing urban schools but won’t impact schools in wealthier suburban school districts. With recent polls suggesting a tight race, charter school backers are counting on Baker’s popularity among voters to help tip the scales. Opponents, including teachers unions and many school committees, contend that charters drain financial resources from conventional public schools.

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GOP COOL TO TRUMP

The last Republican presidential candidate to carry Massachusetts was Ronald Reagan in 1984. This year, neither Democrat Hillary Clinton nor Republican Donald Trump campaigned in person in the state during the general election campaign. Trump easily won the state’s GOP primary in March, yet many top Bay State Republicans eschewed their party’s nominee. Baker said he wouldn’t vote for Trump - or anyone else on the ballot for that matter. Former Republican Gov. William Weld was the Libertarian Party’s vice presidential nominee, but at times went out of his way to praise Clinton and sharply criticize Trump.

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DEMOCRATS IN CHARGE

With many incumbents running unopposed, Democrats are expected to retain their veto-proof supermajorities in both chambers of the state Legislature. Changes in the state’s all-Democratic congressional delegation also seem unlikely. Republicans are on the ballot in only four of the nine U.S. House districts.

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EARLY VOTING SUCCESS

Secretary of State William Galvin says the successful roll-out of early voting in Massachusetts should help to ease the crunch at polling places on Tuesday. He expects overall turnout to rival that of the presidential elections in 2008 and 2012, despite the absence of other high-profile political races.


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