All eyes were turned towards the presidential election Tuesday, but key ballot measures — including the legalization of gay marriage and marijuana — were also decided upon in individual states. Here's a roundup of some of the other results from Election Night that may have been overlooked:
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Which states legalized marijuana? Residents in Colorado and Washington voted to legalize and regulate the production, possession, distribution and recreational use of marijuana for people 21 and older, becoming the first two states to do so. A similar question was on the ballot in Oregon, but got struck down. Also on Tuesday, voters in Massachusetts elected to legalize medical marijuana, while voters in Arkansas narrowly defeated a medical marijuana initiative, with 49 percent of voters in favor and 51 against.
Four states voted in support of gay marriage. Maine, Maryland and Washington all passed measures legalizing gay marriage. Same-sex marriage is now legal in nine states and the District of Columbia, but Tuesday marked the first time it was legalized through voter referendum and not legislation. (Marriage equality had previously been struck down on ballots 32 times.) In another victory for the LGBT community, voters in Minnesota rejected an amendment that would add language to the state constitution specifically banning same-sex marriage.
Can controversial comments lose elections? Republican Todd Akin, whose comments about "legitimate rape" sparked controversy this election season, lost his bid for a U.S. Senate seat in Missouri to Democrat Claire McCaskill. Akin was considered a front-runner in Missouri, a traditionally conservative state that went red in the presidential election, but it seems his comments may have cost him the campaign. Likewise, in Indiana, Republican Richard Mourdock, who described pregnancies resulting from rape as "something that God intended," lost his Senate race to Democrat Joe Donnelly, allowing Democrats to pick up an extra seat in the Senate.
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Democrats retain control of the Senate. Democrats maintained their majority in the U.S. Senate, and even picked up a couple of seats (in Indiana and Massachusetts), but ...
Republicans retain control of the House. Since gaining control of the House in the 2010 election, Republican representatives have done everything in their power to block initiatives proposed by President Obama — a key reason some voters who supported Obama in 2008 changed their vote this time around. Speaker of the House John Boehner has already said that representatives will not support Obama's central policy position of raising taxes on those making more than $250,000 a year. Congress returns from its election recess next week. Here we go again?
Michelle Bachmann re-elected. Primary season seems so long ago, but remember Tea Party presidential contender Michelle Bachmann? The Minnesota congresswoman retained her seat in the House for a fourth term, narrowly defeating Democrat Jim Graves. As recently as July, Bachmann spoke publicly about her belief that the Muslim Brotherhood had infiltrated the federal government.
Florida still undecided. Well, this sounds familiar. The day after the election, Florida's results in the presidential race are too close to call. (Fortunately, unlike in 2000, the results of the swing state's tally won't affect the overall outcome.) Wednesday morning, officials were working to count absentee ballots in the state. As of Wednesday at noon, President Obama was leading Gov. Romney by about 46,000 votes, with 97 percent of precincts reporting, according to CNN.com.
Barack Obama re-elected as president of the United States
Wisconsin elects first openly gay senator. Democrat Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay candidate to be elected to the U.S. Senate, thanks to voters in Wisconsin — which, despite being the home state of Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, went blue in the presidential election. (She's also the first female Senator from the state.) But Baldwin apparently has more things on her mind than her gender and sexuality. "I'm well aware that I will have the honor to be the first woman Senator from Wisconsin. And I'm well aware that I will be the first openly gay member of the United States Senate," she said in a series of tweets Tuesday night. "I didn't run to make history. I ran to make a difference."
Elizabeth Warren becomes first female senator from Massachusetts. Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard professor who gained national recognition after speaking at the Democratic National Convention this summer, defeated Republican incumbent Scott Brown to recapture for Democrats the Massachusetts Senate seat that was held for more than 40 years by the late Edward Kennedy. Brown will also be the first woman to ever represent the Bay State in the U.S. Senate.
Puerto Rico voted to become the 51st state. A majority of Puerto Ricans (about 54 percent) supported changing the island's relationship with the United States, with 61 percent of those saying they favored making it the 51st U.S. state. (Those numbers are as of Wednesday morning, when 97 percent of precincts had reported, according to CBS News.) The measure is a non-binding referendum that will require approval from Congress in order to pass.
Assisted suicide measure narrowly failed in Massachusetts. A measure that would legalize physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients was struck down 51-49 in Massachusetts. Dubbed the "Death with Dignity Act," the initiative, which was modeled after a similar law in Oregon, would have allowed patients with less than six months to live to seek life-ending medications from their physicians, but did not require the patients to undergo psychiatric evaluations or notify their families that they were doing so.