Take This With You To The Polls: Ballot Initiatives Every Black Person Should Know About

Illustration for article titled Take This With You To The Polls: Ballot Initiatives Every Black Person Should Know About
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Although most of the talk about the midterm elections have centered on individuals, when we head to the polls on November 6, almost every state and municipality will ask its citizens to make a few crucial decisions regarding the laws, statutes and even state constitutional amendments.


Using Ballotpedia’s list of 2018 election measures and information from the states, The Root has compiled a list of important referendums that voters will have the opportunity to directly impact their communities.


Although research by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that blacks and whites use marijuana at about the same rate, black people are incarcerated for possession of marijuana at three times the rate of whites. There are six ballot initiatives in four different states concerning the legalization of marijuana.

  • Michigan Proposal 18-1: This law will legalize the possession, use and cultivation of marijuana products by individuals who are at least 21 years of age and older. It will also change several legal punishments to civil infractions and allow commercial sales of marijuana and edibles through licensed retailers. The measure will impose a 10 percent tax on marijuana products.
  • Missouri Medical Marijuana Amendment 2, 3 and C: Missourians have proposed two constitutional amendments and a law legalizing medical marijuana.
    Amendment 2 proposes legalizing medical marijuana and imposing a four percent tax that would go towards veterans’ health care.
    Amendment 3 would set the tax rate for medical marijuana at 15 percent and use the money for biomedical research and drug development.
    Proposition C would not be a constitutional amendment but would impose a two percent tax and use the revenue from medical marijuana for veterans’ services, drug treatment, early childhood education, and for public safety.
  • North Dakota Measure 3: This state law would legalize recreational marijuana in the state and expunge the records of anyone previously convicted for the possession of a controlled substance that is now legal.
  • Utah Proposition 2: This would allow state-licensed facilities to grow, produce and sell marijuana products, as well as allow citizens to grow or purchase products with a physician’s prescription.

Voter Suppression

There are a number of measures on ballots which seek to either limit or expand access to the voting booth.

  • Arkansas Issue 2: A constitutional amendment requiring voter ID.
  • Florida Amendment 4: Automatically restores the right to vote for people with prior felony convictions, except those convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense.
  • Michigan Proposal 3: This would lengthen the voter registration period and automatically register any Michigan resident when they renew their driver’s license or ID card. It would also allow no-excuse absentee voting.
  • Nevada Question 5: Allows Nevada residents to automatically register to vote when receiving DMV services.
  • North Carolina Voter ID Amendment: A constitutional amendment requiring photo ID at the voting booth.

Criminal Justice

Aside from marijuana legislation and felon voting rights, criminal justice reform is on the ballot in three states.

  • Colorado Amendment A: Removes slavery from the Colorado constitution, specifically addressing the part of the state constitution that allows slavery as a punishment for a crime, a provision which also exists in the US Constitution.
  • Louisiana Amendment 2: Would remove the Jim Crow provision in the state constitution, which allows juries to convict a defendant without a unanimous jury verdict.
  • Ohio Issue 1: This law would make offenses related to drug possession and use no more than misdemeanors and prohibit courts from ordering persons on probation for felonies be sent to prison for non-criminal probation violations. It also gives incarcerated persons credit for working, rehabilitation and education.

Income Inequality

There are five measures on the ballots that relate to income inequality, including two proposals to raise the minimum wage.


Police Brutality

Two proposals to state law would change the way police are prosecuted for crimes.

  • Washington Initiative 940: This would create a “good faith test” to determine whether a police officer uses deadly force. It would also require that police receive de-escalation training and mental health screening.


Legal abortions are on the ballot in three states.

  • Alabama Amendment 2: Would amend the state constitution to support the “right to life” and provide that no one has the right to an abortion.
  • Oregon Measure 106: Bans state funds, including health insurance policies provided by the state, from being used for abortions except when medically necessary to protect the life of the mother.
  • West Virginia Amendment 1: Adds to the state constitution the phrase: “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion.”

Other Important measures

  • Massachusetts Question 3: Prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in public places.
  • Washington Initiative 1639: Implements restrictions on the purchase and ownership of firearms, including raising the minimum age to purchase a gun to 21, background checks, waiting periods, and storage requirements.

Now get out there and vote!

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If voting was important and could change things...it would be mandatory. Not only would it broaden campaigns...but it would be a true reflection of the people’s will and billionaires would hold little to no political power. As of right now voting is more about consolidating tribal solidarity than it is anything else. And lets not even add to the fact that every vote is equal...which is the most laughable thing of all.