American democracy is tortuously indirect. On Tuesday, citizens will not exactly cast their ballots for the first female nominee of a major party or a real estate developer turned reality TV star, but for generally unknown candidates who are members of the electoral college: the people who will cast votes for president sometime in December.
But when it comes to the really important issues – life, death, marijuana and condoms – direct democracy rules the day. There are more than 150 statewide measures on the ballot on 8 November, and scores more city- and countywide initiatives for voters to decide on.
Here are some of the key issues that voters will address on election day.
We talk a lot about red states and blue states, but come Tuesday, the entire west coast could go green. California, Arizona and Nevada will vote on whether to join Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Alaska in legalizing recreational marijuana use. Maine and Massachusetts are also voting on recreational marijuana measures. Four other states will vote on whether to join the 25 states that have legalized medical marijuana.