Voters in nine states and scores of cities and towns tackle a variety of economic and social issues today, from abortion in Bristol, Conn., to nuclear waste disposal in Maine, to water conservation in Texas. Only a handful of issues have stirred much interest or emotion this year:
In Texas, voters will decide whether to adopt a two-part, $1.43 billion water conservation and development plan to build reservoirs, pipelines, water treatment plants, and flood control projects. Texans have turned down water plans in 1969 and 1981. This time, the measures are backed by Gov. Mark White and other leading politicians, but some question whether the plan has adequate financial and environmental safeguards.
Low-level nuclear waste disposal is the topic in Maine where voters face three potentially confusing referendums. One measure would give Mainers a ``people's veto'' over any plan to store or dispose of nuclear waste in Maine or out of state. A competing referendum backed by Central Maine Power Company would give citizens a much more limited veto, while a third alternative amounts to a ``no'' vote on the other two.
Ohioans will consider whether to give the state authority to borrow up to $100 million for research in removing sulfur from coal as a way to boost that state's depressed coal industry.
The most heated contests seem to be over local measures:
In Santa Barbara, voters will decide whether to tighten restrictions on offshore oil drilling. The resort city was the scene of a disastrous oil spill in 1969.
Bristol, Conn., voters will be asked whether they think the US Supreme Court should rescind its 12-year-old ruling legalizing abortion. Two New Hampshire cities, Dover and Derry, face similar ballot measures.
Oak Park, Ill., one of four cities with handgun bans, is deciding whether it wants to repeal its 13-month-old prohibition. The vote is nonbinding, but national pro-gun groups have spent about $45,000 to support the measure.
Tucson, Ariz., voters face two propositions that would restrict smoking in restaurants and workplaces.
St. Louis, as part of a two-year-old voluntary desegregation plan, is asking voters to approve a $155 million bond to pay for repairs and construction in that city's schools. If the bond is defeated, a federal judge will order the city and the state of Missouri to come up with the money.
District of Columbia residents will consider a measure that would tighten rent control.
An anti-pornography ordinance inspired by feminists who say smut breeds rape and sexual harassment will be voted on in Cambridge, Mass.