Correction appended, Nov. 3
The ballot box never really sleeps in off years. It just gets local. Instead of candidates for federal office, states, cities and localities put questions before the American voters that sometimes end up being just as important.
As voters across the country head to the polls Tuesday, there’s still plenty at stake, from tight governors’ races to mayoral contests and referendums on issues ranging from the gay rights to pot. Here’s TIME’s look at six of the most interesting races and issues on this off-year Election Day:
- Kentucky governor’s race: Republicans have held the governor’s mansion in Frankfort for just four years of the past 44. But the GOP dominates the conservative Bluegrass State’s congressional delegation, and would be favored to win in a cakewalk had it not nominated a Tea Party-styled insurgent, Matt Bevin, whose primary political experience is getting clobbered by Republican leader Mitch McConnell in last year’s U.S. Senate primary. Bevin narrowly trails Democrat Jack Conway, Kentucky’s attorney general, in what is projected to be a low-turnout off-year election.
- Ohio’s marijuana ballot initiative: Buckeye State voters go to the polls Tuesday to determine whether to legalize both medical and recreational pot. The initiative, known as Issue 3, has sparked considerable controversy among cannabis activists. Financed by a group of wealthy investors, the measure would hand control of the state’s commercial marijuana market to a small cadre of insiders, prompting some longtime proponents of pot to oppose it. A recent survey by the University of Akron found voters evenly split.
- San Francisco’s Airbnb initiative: A city of skyrocketing rents will consider a ballot measure that targets one of the titans of the tech industry. Proposition F would tighten regulation of short-term rentals, limiting the number of nights a unit can be rented each year to 75. Airbnb has spent heavily to defeat the proposal, which could spawn similar campaigns in other cities if it succeeds.
- Mississippi’s school-funding question: A citizen-sponsored constitutional amendment will be on the ballot in Mississippi. Initiative 42 would transfer some of the power to appropriate funds for the state’s public schools from the legislature to judges.
- Houston Anti-Discrimination battle: After the City Council passed an ordinance that protected gay and transgender people from discrimination, opponents put the measure up for a public referendum vote. Opponents of the measure say that the new protections could allow men to enter women’s bathrooms just by “claiming to be a woman that day.” They have taken to wearing “No Men in Women’s Bathrooms” T-shirts to fight to overturn the ordinance.
- Colorado’s recall fight: A school-board recall election in suburban Denver highlights how powerful interest groups are zeroing in on hyperlocal skirmishes as a way to push a national agenda. Spending on Tuesday’s hotly contested school-board race in Jefferson County, Colo., is expected to exceed $1 million, according to the Washington Post. A push to revamp the AP U.S. history curriculum to focus on patriotic themes evolved into a “proxy war” between teachers’ unions and conservative groups like the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity, which has spent heavily in the contest.
Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated Jack Conway’s position. He is Kentucky attorney general.
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