Ballot Initiatives To Look At This November – Your Black World

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By: Ryan Velez

A lot of people are focused on House, Senate, and Governor seats for this November’s midterms, and no one would fault you for that given how much these races are being publicized and the added layer of importance they are taking this time around. However, people aren’t the only things that are going to be voted on this November. The Root compiled a list of several ballot items in various states that have a lot to do with issues relevant to both the black community and the community at large. Here are some standouts.

One example is marijuana laws. Black people don’t use marijuana at any higher rates than white people do, but are far more likely to be arrested for possession of it. This makes legalization efforts more important to black people than they may seem. Michigan’s Proposal 18-1: 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. North Dakota, Utah, and Missouri also have marijuana-related measures.

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Criminal justice reform is also something that is important to black communities, as again, black people are more likely to be imprisoned and for longer. One key Ohio measure, Ohio issue 1, proposes making offenses related to drug possession and use no more than misdemeanors and prohibiting 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.

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There are also several measures in different states targeting income inequality. For example, Arkansas has a ballot that could potentially raise the minimum wage to $11 by 2020. Missouri also is debating raising the minimum wage.

One interesting ballot in Washington State covers police brutality. Washington Initiative 940 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. Every state has its own ballot initiatives, so be sure to look up what’s up for the vote in your state’s midterms before heading to the polls.

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