Oklahoma overwhelmingly voted in favour of the death penalty

Oklahoma overwhelmingly passed its death penalty ballot measure on Tuesday, local media reported.

It was one of the three states along with Nebraska and California that put death sentences to a vote.

With 1,666 of 1,965 precincts reporting Tuesday night, 67% of voters cast ballots in favour of creating a section in the Oklahoma’s constitution that declares the death penalty “shall not be deemed to be or constitute the infliction of cruel or unusual punishment.”

The measure will make Oklahoma the first state to include explicit protections for capital punishment in its constitution.

In Nebraska, early results Tuesday night showed a narrow race that has remained too close to call. Voters there had to choose to “retain” or “repeal” legislation that eliminated the death penalty.

The ballot question, however, was criticised by some for its use of a double negative in its wording, which could well have confused voters — the vote to “repeal” would reinstate the death penalty, while a vote to “retain” would have eliminated it.

Voters in California, meanwhile, had two opposing death penalty proposals on their ballots — one to eliminate the death penalty, and the other to speed up the process.

Although California hasn’t executed an inmate since 2006, the state accounts for a disproportionately high amount of death sentences imposed — accounting for a quarter of all death-row inmates in the United States, according to the Washington Post.

Despite the ballot measures, use of the death penalty has been declining throughout the country since the mid-1990s, propelled by just a handful of outlier counties that impose a disproportionate amount of death sentences.

Many of the states that do retain the death penalty are often hampered in their attempts to use it — partly due to logistical barriers such as widespread lethal injection shortages.

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