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Millions to vote on marijuana legalization and gun control

Did you know five states will vote on marijuana legalization on Election Day? Take a look at the ballot issues in the video above. (Sinclair Broadcast Group)

At the most recent presidential debate in Las Vegas, Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump sparred again regarding their stances on gun control.

"I understand and respect the tradition of gun ownership," Clinton said when asked her views on the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. "But I also believe that there can be and must be reasonable regulation."

Trump hit back on regulation, "In Chicago, we have the toughest laws and you have tremendous gun violence, " before reaffirming his strong support of the Second Amendment.

Soon, voters in four states -- California, Maine, Nevada, and Washington -- will vote on gun measures.

California's would regulate large capacity ammunition clips, while Washington State would give the courts more power to remove firearms from individuals who are ruled a threat to themselves or others.

Maine's initiative would require background checks before a gun sale or transfer by people who aren't licensed gun dealers, and Nevada's would require all transfers to go through a licensed gun dealer.

The measures have prompted opposition ads from groups like the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Recently, analytics firm Gallup reported that a record high 60 percent of Americans now support the legalization of marijuana.

Both Clinton and Trump support medical marijuana, with Clinton holding off on a position on recreational legalization, until she sees the results from the states. Since entering the race, Trump has signaled that recreational pot should be left up to the states.

Next month, eight states will vote to join the 25 states that have already legalized medical or recreational pot. Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota have medical-only on the ballot, while Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, and -- the largest -- California will decide on recreational.


In an interview with CNN, California's Democratic Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom said of his state's initiative, "It’s a game changer in California, not just in terms of drug policy in California, but drug policy in the United States of America.”

Ballot initiatives themselves have also been called game changers in past presidential elections.

Back in 2004, political analysts credited same-sex marriage bans in 11 states for mobilizing Christian Conservatives to get-out the vote. That may have helped George W. Bush to his second term as president. Same-sex marriage bans were eventually struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in June of 2015.

When it comes to marijuana legalization, supporters tend to be younger and lean more toward Independent or the Democratic Party.

Gun control and Second Amendment rights ignite passions on both sides.

According to Professor of Government Jan Leighley of American University in Washington, DC, turnout has less to do with passions and more to do with the ground game and money spent by the groups supporting and opposing the initiatives.

In a presidential year with a Democrat in striking distance picking off a couple of reliably red states, voter turnout could make all the difference.

"Republicans who are not happy with the choices, perhaps good fights, high spending about ballot initiatives could really be the difference between them staying home or getting out to vote," said Professor Leighley.

Other ballot initiatives hitting the states this year include health care and minimum wage hikes.






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