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Election Day: No Legal Pot In Ohio; Democrats Lose In The South

Bobby McMurtry reviews the list of candidates outside his precinct prior to voting in Ridgeland, Miss.
Rogelio V. Solis
Bobby McMurtry reviews the list of candidates outside his precinct prior to voting in Ridgeland, Miss.

Tuesday is "off year" Election Day in parts of the country. Legalizing marijuana is on the ballot in Ohio, Houston voters will decide on an equal rights ordinance and San Francisco weighs short-term rentals in what's being called the "Airbnb Initiative."

Elsewhere, eyes are on governor races in Kentucky and Louisiana, and whether Democrats can make any progress in the South.

Here's a look at some of the races:


Houston voters will decide whether to keep an equal rights ordinance that was approved by the City Council last year. The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity — criteria not covered by national anti-discrimination laws. The ordinance is hotly debated, particularly after some opposition were released. The ads claim that the ordinance would allow men who identify as women to assault women and young girls in bathrooms.

Hillary Clinton tweeted her support for the ordinance on Oct. 29, writing: "No one should face discrimination for who they are or who they love — I support efforts for Equality in Houston & beyond. #HERO #YesOnProp1 -H".

A White House spokesman said that President Obama and Vice President Biden were "confident that the citizens of Houston will vote in favor of fairness and equality."

Update from Houston Public Media:Houston's voters strongly rejected the anti-discrimination measure, with about three-fifths of voters opposed.


Republican Matt Bevin and Democrat Jack Conway are running to replace retiring Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat. Although Republicans have aggressively been spending money in the hope of retaining the governor's mansion, Conway has outspentBevin 4 to 1. This race has been characterized by both candidates accusing each other of lying about their records.

Update from WFPL in Louisville:Conway conceded the race — the returns late Tuesday night showed Bevin winning with about 53 percent of the vote — and Republicans generally performed well in the state.


Louisiana has a gubernatorial election this year but it doesn't work the way you might expect. Louisiana's election system relies on what's called a "jungle primary." In a jungle primary, all candidates regardless of party appear on one ballot. If no one wins 50 percent of the vote, the top two candidates face each other in a runoff election.

John Bel Edwards, a Democrat and state legislative leader, earned roughly 40 percent of the vote. He now will face Sen. David Vitter, a Republican, in the runoff election on Nov. 21. Vitter has had a tough race so far. His critics have continuously cited his involvement in a 2007 prostitution scandal, in which Vitter's telephone number was found in the records of the so-called D.C. Madam, Deborah Palfrey. Palfrey was accused of running a prostitution ring that made more than $2 million over 13 years.


The "Clean Elections Initiative" would increase public funding for candidates to up to $3 million in order to make them more competitive against privately-funded candidates, according to Reuters. The existing law makes up to $2 million available to candidates for state office. The ballot measure would also increase disclosure requirements and increase the penalties for campaign finance violations.

Update from the Portland Press Herald: The measure passed, with 55 percent of the vote as of late Tuesday:

"'Today, Mainers sent a message loud and clear: We want transparency, we want a government accountable to everyday people and we want a strong public-financing clean election law that puts voters in control of our democracy — not wealthy special interests and high-paid lobbyists,' said Andrew Bossie, executive director of Maine Citizens for Clean Elections."


Republican Gov. Phil Bryant is up for reelection and faces opposition from an unlikely candidate — truck driver and political unknown Robert Gray. According to The Associated Press, Gray didn't even tell his closest relatives that he had signed up to campaign for governor. Bryant has spent roughly $2.7 million this year and reportedly has $1.4 million in the bank. Gray has spent about $3,000 on his campaign in the past three months.

Update from Mississippi Public Broadcasting: Gray will presumably be back on the road after losing, 67 percent to 32 percent.


Ohio voters vote on two ballot measures with constitutional amendments that could dramatically change marijuana laws in their state. Issue 3, as one of these two measures is called, would enable landowners or operators of 10 predetermined sites the right to grow commercial marijuana. That's in contradiction to the second measure, Issue 2, which would prohibit monopolies from being enshrined in the state constitution. If both measures pass, there's sure to be lots of confusion.

(Read more from WKSU here)

Update from WCPN in Cleveland:Votersrejected legal and medical marijuana, with two-thirds voting against Issue 3; Issue 2, the measure rejecting the proposed marijuana oligopoly, was passing 54 percent to 46 percent.

San Francisco

San Franciscans heading to the polls Tuesday will get to vote on Proposition F, colloquially known as the "Airbnb Initiative." The initiative is a ballot measure that would strengthen regulation on the short-term rental of houses and apartments. While Airbnb is likely the biggest company in that niche market, the Los Angeles Times points out that there are other vacation rental companies that would be affected. Right now, residents can rent out their apartment or home for 90 days in a year. Proposition F would limit that rental period to 75 days. The measure is viewed as an attempt to discourage people from taking units off the housing market and using them as short-term apartment rentals. San Francisco has an acute housing shortage.

Update from KQED in San Francisco:Voters rejected the measure, Proposition F, 55 percent to 45 percent.


Seattle voters will decide on a campaign finance measure that's being touted as a national model for campaign finance reform. Ballot initiative I-122, if passed, would create a public financing model in the city. Every resident would receive a $100 voucher to give to the candidate of their choosing. The measure would also limit election campaign contributions from entities receiving city contracts of $250,000 or more, or from people spending more than $5,000 on lobbying.

Update from KUOW in Seattle:Voters overwhelmingly passed the measure, 60 percent to 40 percent.


All 140 seats of Virginia's General Assembly are up for election today. Republicans currently control the state Senate, 21 seats to 19. Expecting low turnout, both parties have been trying to drive their message home to voters. Republicans are expected to retain their majority in the GA. Democrats hope to take control of the state Senate.

Update from the Richmond Times-Dispatch: Republicans have kept their majority in the Senate, and their strong control of the General Assembly.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Barbara Sprunt is a producer on NPR's Washington desk, where she reports and produces breaking news and feature political content. She formerly produced the NPR Politics Podcast and got her start in radio at as an intern on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is an alumnus of the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania native.
Brett Neely is an editor with NPR's Washington Desk, where he works closely with NPR Member station reporters on political coverage and edits stories about election security and voting rights.