Missouri voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a measure intended to nullify the new federal health care law, becoming the first state in the nation where ordinary people made known their dismay over the issue at the ballot box.
The measure was meant to invalidate a crucial element of President Barack Obama's health care law — namely, that most people be required to get health insurance or pay a tax penalty. Supporters of the measure said it would send a firm signal to Washington about how this state, often a bellwether in presidential elections, felt.
The referendum drew support from 71 percent of nearly 939,000 voters.
"My constituents told me they felt like their voices had been ignored and they wanted Washington to hear them," said Jane Cunningham, a state senator and Republican. "It looks to me like they just picked up a megaphone."
The referendum, known as Proposition C, was seen as a first look at efforts by conservatives to gather and rally their forces over the issue. Practically speaking, it remains entirely uncertain what effect the vote will have. The insurance requirement of the federal health care law does not come into effect until 2014. By then, experts say, the courts are likely to weigh in on the provision.