Ballot Initiatives to Look Out For This November

by Christy Yao



An essential part of our democracy is the people getting to vote on particularly important or controversial issues. This election cycle is no different, with many initiatives and measures being voted on by the constituents of various states, counties, and cities. Here are some of the measures being voted on this November.


Abortion

  • Colorado: The 22-Week Abortion Ban Initiative outlaws abortion after the gestational age of the preborn baby reaches twenty-two weeks. Colorado currently has no limits on abortion based on gestational age. There is an exception to save the mother’s life. If the Initiative is passed, any abortion after twenty-two weeks will be a Class 1 misdemeanor, with a penalty of $500-$5,000 for performing the abortion and a suspension of the provider's medical license for at least three years.

  • Louisiana: The No Right to Abortion in the Constitution Amendment adds this sentence to the Louisiana Declaration of Rights: “To protect human life, nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to an abortion or require the funding of an abortion.”¹


Anti-Racism

  • Los Angeles, CA: The County Board of Supervisors has put forth an amendment to the city charter called “Reimagine LA County”² that distributes a minimum of 10% of the county’s unrestricted funds to racial justice initiatives and alternatives to incarceration. This money cannot be used for law enforcement or prisons.¹


Embryonic Stem Cell Research

  • California: In 2004, California voters approved Proposition 71, which created and funded the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) for stem cell research, as well as established a state constitutional right to conduct stem cell research. The Stem Cell Research Institute Bond Initiative, being voted on this November, would give the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine $5.5 billion in general obligation bonds.¹ This includes embryonic stem cells, many of whom will get destroyed in the process.³


Police Reform

There are twenty local police-related ballot measures. Here are a few of them:

  • San Francisco, CA: The Board of Supervisors approved an amendment on the ballot this November to remove the Police Department’s mandatory minimum staffing. This amendment would require the police department to submit a report and recommendation for staffing numbers based on the department’s workload. The police commissioner would be required to consider this report and recommendation when making a budget.

  • Portland, OR: The citizens are voting on whether or not to create a police oversight board. This would include a subpoena panel over officers and witnesses, who would have access to documents and evidence in police brutality cases. The board would have the power to terminate officers.

  • Philadelphia, PA: A mostly ceremonial amendment, put forth by the mayor and city council, is being voted on to stop “unconstitutional” stop and frisk searches. This amendment is meant to reiterate the city's commitment to reducing police brutality.

  • Akron, OH: In 2017, Akron was the first city to equip all its police officers with body cameras. However, many citizens are upset that the videos have not been released in a timely manner. The amendment to be voted on would release the footage of these cameras sooner.

  • King County, WA: There are two measures on the ballot this November that would affect law enforcement: The first is to appoint instead of elect a sheriff. The idea behind this is to make the position of sheriff less politicized. The second motion is to allow county councils to set the duties of the sheriff.²

  • Pittsburgh, PA: Citizens are voting on whether to amends and strengthen the powers of the City’s Citizen Police Review Board.

  • San Diego, CA: This measure would create an independent commission on police practices.


Notes:

1. Ballotpedia: The Encyclopedia of American Politics. Accessed on 10.22.2020. https://ballotpedia.org/

2. Arrietta-Kenna, Ruairi, “6 Places Where Police Reform is Going Straight to the Voters”, 10.15.2020, Politico. https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/10/15/police-reform-ballot-initiatives-2020-420614

3. MacNair, Rachel. “Peace and Life Referendums”. 2020. Accessed 10.22.2020. https://peace-and-life-referendums.org/.



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