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Voters used ballots to just say no

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Backers of a slew of failed ballot measures scratched their heads Wednesday, hypothesizing that voters were fed up this Election Day - with fat-cat contributors to gun control in Washington and a forestry fight in Maine, with lawmakers who demanded a second Oregon vote on assisted suicide, and possibly with the whole ballot business itself.

From coast to coast, Americans passed on change this year. They rejected a repeal of affirmative action in Houston, a plan to limit clearcutting in Maine, a sales tax increase for new professional football and baseball stadiums in Pittsburgh. The Navajos said no to casino gambling, as they did in 1994, and New Yorkers turned down chances to revise their state constitution and borrow $2.4 billion to build and repair schools.Every measure that failed prompted theories from disappointed supporters to explain why, but analysts and victorious proponents agreed that Tuesday's votes will help steer the direction of some of the nation's most divisive social debates.

In Washington, losing ballot authors said they were "swept away by the politics of no."

Voters there summarily rejected stricter gun control laws, workplace protections for gays, legalized pot for medicinal use and a provision allowing patients to keep their doctors when they switch jobs or health plans.

Oregonians, apparently indignant that they were asked to repeal their 1994 vote legalizing assisted suicide, voted no 60 percent to 40 percent.