Now Reading:

Bear-baiting with doughnuts? The referendums of the US mid-terms

world news

Bear-baiting with doughnuts? The referendums of the US mid-terms


The headlines from the US mid-term elections will likely be all about Obama, the Republicans and who has control of Congress.

But, somewhat away from the international media glare, a whole host of state-level referenda are taking place on the same day.

So when voters go to the polls to elect representatives, senators and state governors, they might also be asked about guns, marijuana or lifting booze bans.

And, with claims no national issue is galvanising voters, it could be that the types of people drawn out to vote in these referendums, will affect the overall result.

Here we celebrate some of the worthy and wacky referendums taking place on Tuesday, November 4.

“Marijuana Midterms”

There are referendums in Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia on legalisation measures for marijuana.

If all the states vote ‘yes’ it would hand momentum to those hoping for the drug to be made legal nationwide.

It comes after Colorado and Washington passed legalisation measures two years ago.

Florida, meanwhile, will vote on whether to use the drug for certain medical purposes.

Bear-baiting with doughnuts?

One of the more unusual ballots is in Maine, where people will be asked whether the state should continue to allow bear-baiting with jelly doughnuts and cold pizza, according to reports from the National Journal.

The referendum will also ask whether it’s acceptable to hunt bears using traps and dogs.

It is proving to be a controversial issue – animal rights activists claim the practice is cruel while wildlife experts say it will see a boom in the state’s bear population.

Booze bans

Arkansas is one of just ten states in the US to allow the banning of alcohol in certain areas within its borders.

Currently 38 counties allow the sale of alcohol, while 37 ban it.

The referendum on November 4 will ask people whether they want the sale of booze to be made legal across the whole state.


Alabama’s state motto is: “We dare defend our rights”.

So it should perhaps come as no surprise there is a referendum on November 4 to strengthen the “right to bear arms” in the state.

The United States’ Bill of Rights already provides for the right to keep and bear arms, as does Alabama’s state constitution.

But if approved the referendum would strengthen this right, inserting the word ‘fundamental’ into the constitution.

Chris Cox, from the National Rifle Association, said: “Amendment 3 would strengthen the current Alabama right to keep and bear arms amendment by ensuring the highest level of constitutional protection.

“Amendment 5 would protect Alabama’s hunting traditions from well-funded extremist groups that seek to ban hunting. These amendments are critical to protect the constitutional freedoms of law-abiding gun owners and sportsmen in Alabama.”

GMO labelling

Votes will take place in Colorado and Oregon over whether to require labelling of foods made with genetically modified ingredients.

Those opposing mandatory GMO labelling have contributed more than three times the money contributed by labelling supporters.

“We’re not able to compete with these massive contributions,’ Larry Cooper, campaign chair for Right to Know Colorado, told Reuters. “I have not written off the campaign. But it is very much a David and Goliath situation.”

One opponent of GMO labelling is biotech crop company DuPont Pioneer, a unit of DuPont, which on Oct. 17 kicked in $4.5 million (3.59 million euros) to the anti-labelling campaign in Oregon.

“Dupont is part of a broad coalition of people in Oregon that oppose this labelling initiative because it could be costly and confusing for consumers,” DuPont spokeswoman Jane Slusark told Reuters.

Every story can be told in many ways: see the perspectives from Euronews journalists in our other language teams.

Next Article