If you're a U.S. resident, at this point, you've probably given some thought to who you will be voting for for President, and may even know who you'll vote for by now. You may also know, or have some idea, of who you will be voting for when it comes to positions in your state up for the vote this year.
What you might not be prepared for in advance are ballot measures which will be printed on your ballot November 4th, which are just as important, and not always explained clearly or detailed. These measures are one of many reasons why your vote matters so much.
This year, some states have measures up for the vote which may be of particular interest to Scarleteen readers, such as parental notification laws for minors who want an abortion, age of consent laws, same-sex marriage, civil rights, stem cell research, education issues, even a proposal to lower the voting age for primaries in one state (whoohoo!) and another to ban abortion outright (grrrr). Here are a few of them to help you find out what's what in advance.
ARIZONA: Proposition 4 Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor’s Pregnancy. This measure amends the State Constitution to require, with certain exceptions, a physician (or his or her representative) to notify the parent or legal guardian of a pregnant minor at least 48 hours before performing an abortion involving that minor.
Proposition 102 Marriage. Proposition 102 would amend the Arizona Constitution to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state.
ARKANSAS: Proposed Initiative Act 1. A proposed act providing that a minor may not be adopted or placed in a foster home if the individual seeking to adopt or to serve as a foster parent is cohabiting with a sexual partner outside of a marriage which is valid under the constitution and laws of this state; stating that the foregoing prohibition applies equally to cohabiting opposite-sex and same-sex individuals.
CALIFORNIA: Proposition 4 Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor’s Pregnancy. This measure amends the State Constitution to require, with certain exceptions, a physician (or his or her representative) to notify the parent or legal guardian of a pregnant minor at least 48 hours before performing an abortion involving that minor. (This measure does not require a physician or a minor to obtain the consent of a parent or guardian.) This measure applies only to cases involving an "unemancipated" minor. The measure identifies an unemancipated minor as being a female under the age of 18 who has not entered into a valid marriage, is not on active duty in the armed services of the United States, and has not been declared free from her parents’ or guardians' custody and control under state law.
Proposition 8 Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry. This measure amends the California Constitution to specify that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. As a result, notwithstanding the California Supreme Court ruling of May 2008, marriage would be limited to individuals of the opposite sex, and individuals of the same sex would not have the right to marry in California.
COLORADO: Amendment 46 Discrimination and Preferential Treatment by Governments. Proposes amending the Colorado Constitution to:
- prohibit Colorado government from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in public employment, public education, or public contracting;
- make exceptions for federal programs, existing court orders or other legally binding agreements, and bona fide qualifications based on sex; and
- provide the same remedies that are available for violations of existing Colorado anti-discrimination law.
Amendment 48 Definition of Person. Would amend the Colorado Constitution to:
- define the term "person" to "include any human being from the moment of fertilization"; and
- apply this definition of person to the sections of the Colorado Constitution that protect the natural and essential rights of persons, allow open access to courts for every person, and ensure that no person has his or her life, liberty, or property taken away without due process of law.
Amendment 51 State Sales Tax Increase for Services for People with Developmental Disabilities. This would increase the state sales tax to help provide for more help and assistance for those people who have developmental disabilities.
CONNECTICUT: HJ 21 Voting Age. This resolution proposes a constitutional amendment allowing 17-year-old citizens who will turn 18 on or before the day of a regular election to vote in its primary. Under the resolution, such an individual must apply and otherwise qualify for admission as an elector. He or she may then vote in the primary held to determine nominees for the regular election. Upon turning 18, the individual's electoral rights attach. By law, a "regular election" means any municipal or state election. State elections include candidates for federal office.
FLORIDA: Amendment 2 Florida Marriage Protection Amendment. This amendment "protects" marriage as the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife and provides that no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.
Amendment 8 Local Option Community College Funding. Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to require that the Legislature authorize counties to levy a local option sales tax to supplement community college funding; requiring voter approval to levy the tax; providing that approved taxes will sunset after 5 years and may be reauthorized by the voters.
MICHIGAN: Proposal 08-2 A Proposal to Amend the State Constitution to Permit Human Embryo and Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research in Michigan. This is what it says: you would be voting to allow or disallow stem cell research.
MONTANA: I-155 Healthy Montana Kids Plan Act. I-155 establishes the Healthy Montana Kids plan to expand and coordinate health coverage for uninsured children under the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Montana Medicaid Program, and employer-sponsored health insurance. The State Health Department may: raise income eligibility levels for children under CHIP and Medicaid; simplify transitions between CHIP and Medicaid coverage; provide assistance for children in employer-sponsored insurance; and work with health care providers, schools, organizations, and agencies to encourage enrollment of uninsured children. Funding for I-155 will come from a share of the insurance premium tax and federal matching funds.
NEBRASKA: Affirmative Action Ban The object of this petition is to place on the general election ballot an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Nebraska to prohibit discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis or race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education or public contracting by the state or any of its agencies, institutions or political subdivisions.
OREGON: Measure 58 Prohibits Teaching Public School Student in Language Other Than English for More than Two Years. Ballot Measure 58 amends Oregon statute to prohibit teaching non-English speaking public school students in a language that is not English for more than one to two years. Presently, local school districts are required to provide programs based on research for the learning of English as nonnative speakers. Those programs now are provided until such time as students are assessed as "English proficient."
Under the measure, students who do not understand English may attend English immersion classes for a limited time before being taught only in English. English immersion is not defined by the measure and will require the Oregon legislature to determine what comprises English immersion and what effect that definition will have on instruction in the non-English language. Further, the legislature will have to address the effect of this measure on compliance with relevant federal laws.
Students entering a public school in kindergarten through grade 4 may attend English immersion classes for no more than one year. Students entering a public school in grades 5 through 8 may attend English immersion classes for no more than one and one-half years. Students entering a public school in grades 9 through 12 may attend English immersion classes for no more than two years. After one to two years, English language learners will be mainstreamed, regardless of whether they are English-proficient.
SOUTH CAROLINA: Amendment 1 Age of Consent. This amendment deletes the section of the Constitution which says an unmarried woman must be fourteen years old or older in order to consent to sexual intercourse. Deleting this section would allow the state legislature to set the age of consent. Currently, the state legislature has the age of consent set at sixteen for most cases.
SOUTH DAKOTA: Initiated Measure 11 Reinstate Prohibition Against Abortion. Measure 11 would prohibit all abortions performed by medical procedures or substances administered to terminate a pregnancy, except for: abortions medically necessary to prevent death or the serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily organ or system of the woman; and abortions to terminate a pregnancy of less than 20 weeks resulting from rape or incest reported to law enforcement.
When an abortion is performed as a result of reported rape or incest, the woman must consent to biological sampling from herself and the embryo or fetus for DNA testing by law enforcement.
Want to have a look at the ballot for your state in advance, so you can know how to vote before you go? You can see sample ballots for each state by clicking here, or look up the ballot measures for your state here