On Election Day ballots: Food labeling, marijuana taxes and casino gambling

October 21, 2013

DENVER — Ballot questions are taking center stage in the Nov. 5 elections as voters in a half-dozen states grapple with issues including marijuana taxes, genetically modified foods and casino gambling.

A combined 31 measures are spread among ballots in six states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Many are routine bond issues, but several high-profile questions are drawing national attention in an otherwise sleepy off-year election season.

In Washington state, nearly $24 million has been spent on Initiative 522, which would require labeling of genetically modified foods.

The ballot question is a repeat of the expensive battle over genetically modified organisms in California, where the agriculture and food industries narrowly beat back a labeling initiative supported by environmentalists in 2012.

Opponents of Initiative 522, led by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, have outraised supporters by a ratio of more than 3-to-1. The campaign also has collected a dozen newspaper endorsements, including that of The Seattle Times, which said supporters are running “a clumsy, emotion-based campaign.”

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