While the presidential race dominated national headlines on Election Day, California voted for a few big changes of its own. The state elected a new senator in Kamala Harris and approved ballot measures to legalize marijuana for recreational use and require background checks for ammunition.
Harris defeated opponent Loretta Sanchez for a seat in the United States Senate. Both women are Democrats, and it was the first time there was no Republican on the general election ballot since the state began directly electing senators in 1914. It was also the first time in 24 years that there was no incumbent on the ballot. Harris will be first Indian-American woman to serve in the Senate.
Local voters were also able to make their voice heard on the state's 17 propositions.
"Some of the propositions on the ballot are pretty innovative and I think some of them have the potential to really benefit the lives of people," Hashim Osman, a USC junior and first-time voter, said.
Proposition 64, one of the most talked-about propositions on the ballot, passed. The proposition will legalize recreational marijuana in California for people 21 years and older. The state has until Jan. 1, 2018, to issue licenses to businesses. California became the first state to legalize medicinal marijuana when voters approved Proposition 215 in 1996.
Another much-discussed topic was on the ballot in two places: Propositions 62 and 66 dealt with the death penalty. The state voted not to pass Proposition 62, which would have repealed the death penalty in favor of life without parole. Proposition 66 — a measure that would not only keep the death penalty in place, but accelerate the process — was ahead with almost 51 percent of the vote as of Wednesday morning.
Proposition 58 also passed, re-introducing bilingual teaching in California public schools. The measure thereby voids parts of a 1998 ballot initiative that restricted multilingual education in California, but it maintains that students should become proficient in English.
Gun control has also been a hot topic in the 2016 election. Californians weighed in by voting on Proposition 63, which will require background checks for ammunition purchases and prohibit the possession of large-capacity magazines. The measure passed.
California had already raised the legal age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21, and on Tuesday a ballot measure aimed to further limit the consumption of cigarettes and other tobacco products. Proposition 56, which passed, increases the tax on tobacco by $2. Almost 63 percent of California voters approved the increase.
Californians voted on two measures that dealt with the use of disposable plastic bags. As of Wednesday morning, Proposition 67 had 52 percent of the vote. It would prohibit grocery stores and pharmacies from providing single-use plastic bags to customers. Meanwhile, Proposition 65 — which would have required stores to direct money collected from sales of carry-out bags to environmental projects — did not pass.
Proposition 57, which would increase parole and good behavior opportunities for felons convicted of nonviolent crimes, also passed. The proposition will also allow judges to decide whether to try certain minors in court as adults instead of prosecutors.
Former Democratic presidential nominee Bernie Sanders strongly advocated for Proposition 61, which would require the state to negotiate with drug companies in order to regulate the price of drugs in California, ensuring state agencies would pay no more than the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs pays for prescription drugs. The VA typically pays 20 percent less than the government price. As of Wednesday morning, the measure had 53.7 percent of the vote against it.
Proposition 52 passed, making it necessary to get voter approval to change the dedicated use of certain fees from hospitals used to draw matching federal money and fund Medi-Cal services.
Californians voted to pass Proposition 54, which prohibits the legislature from passing any bill until it has been printed and published on the internet for 72 hours prior to the vote.
Billions of dollars were at stake for California schools in this election. Proposition 51, also known as the California Public School Facility Bonds Initiative, would issue $9 billion to fund improvements and the construction of new facilities for California public schools. The measure passed with 54 percent of the vote.
As of Wednesday morning, results showed 51.4 percent of voters opposing Proposition 53. The measure would require voter approval before the state could issue more than $2 billion in public infrastructure bonds requiring an increase in taxes or fees for repayment.
Proposition 55 would extend the personal income tax increases on incomes over $250,000 approved in 2012 for 12 years in order to fund education and healthcare. The measure passed with 62 percent of the vote.
Proposition 59 would advise elected officials to overturn the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, and the measure passed with 52.3 percent of the vote.
Proposition 60, which would require the use of condoms in pornographic films in addition to mandatory health checkups, failed, with almost 54 percent of votes opposing the proposition.
Reach staff reporter Zack Kreisler here.