[Update: Prop 203's numbers have dropped back down again after further counting of late ballots.]
Drug policy reformers were all but reconciled late Tuesday night to a zero-out-of-four year for statewide marijuana initiatives. Along with a moral victory but electoral defeat for California's Proposition 19 legalization measure, medical marijuana initiatives lost decisively in South Dakota and Oregon, and a medical initiative in Arizona, Proposition 203, was down by the frustratingly slim margin of 50.3%-49.7%, with most precincts reporting. Prop 203's support rose to 49.74% later in the night when the remaining precincts were reported.
The question then for Prop 203 partisans was whether those late mail-in and provisional voters are representative of the state as a whole (e.g., the equivalent of a random sample of Arizona voters, in which case one would expect the same statewide split on the initiative), or whether they differ demographically from the state as a whole, in ways that affect that split. A late Thursday afternoon update on the Secretary of State's web site suggests good news for the measure on that front, with an improved 49.86% voting yes on 203, 65,718 additional votes having lowered the vote difference to 3,870. Assuming those votes were mail-ins or provisionals, not additional precinct reports, Prop 203 at that rate could reach 50.4% or even 50.5%.
Observers have speculated that Republican voters may have disproportionately voted early by mail, due to the higher level of motivation prevailing among conservatives this year. More Democrats, by contrast, may have put off voting but responded at the last minute, prompted by get-out-the-vote efforts or the deadline. If so, that would bode well for Prop 203 -- as well as for candidates favored by reformers, such as California Attorney General candidate Kamala Harris, slightly leading arch-opponent of medical marijuana Steve Cooley; or Washington State Rep. reelection candidate Roger Goodman, slightly behind Police Sgt. Kevin Haistings but also closing the gap.
Provisional Arizona voters have until Tuesday, November 9, to bring qualifying identification to their county election offices. Click here for further information of qualifying ID types, or call (602) 542-8683 or (877) THE-VOTE for further information, or (602) 255-8683 for TDD for the hearing impaired.