Why You Should Vote: Ballot Questions

Michaela Donato

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I know you’ve heard a lot about why you should vote. Every vote counts. It’s your duty to your country. The ballot is stronger than the bullet. Really?

Living in Massachusetts changes things. Massachusetts votes Democrat. For major elections like the presidential election and congressional elections, it’s a safe bet that Democratic candidates will win. Accordingly, the idea of voting may seem pointless for many Massachusetts residents, especially those who lean right. But every vote does count in state and local elections.

Right now, there are four hot-topic ballot questions in Massachusetts: whether or not to allow another casino, to allow more funding to expand charter schools, to allow regulation of caged animals, to allow for the legalization of marijuana.

Question 1 about the creation of a new slot machine gaming establishment is the question that won’t disappear. Casinos have remained a point of contention for the past three years. Can’t we vote to have this question taken off the ballot? A YES VOTE passes licensure of one additional casino. A NO VOTE makes no change in current laws regarding gaming.

Question 2 is one of the more popular questions. A YES VOTE raises the maximum number of yearly approvals for new charter schools or enrollment expansions to 12, as long as charter enrollment does not exceed 1% of statewide public school enrollment. A NO VOTE doesn’t change policy regarding charter schools. You must’ve seen conflicting commercials—probably one right after another—about the effects of expanding charter schools, the exclusivity of charter schools, and the benefits charter schools have for kids in bad school districts. The information is overwhelming. If examined logically, does it really make sense that giving money to charter schools would not take money away from public schools?

Question 3 deals with cage-free eggs and other animal rights issues. A YES VOTE prohibits the any confinement of pigs, calves, and hens in which the animals can’t lie down, stand up, extend their limbs, or rotate. A NO VOTE makes no changes to laws relating to regulation of farm animals. This question seems to be pretty obvious; treat the animals justly. The only thing that could influence any other vote would be concern over increases in price that could result from the added regulations.

Question 4 is the other big question. A YES VOTE allows adults over 21 to possess marijuana and marijuana products and to cultivate marijuana (in limited amounts), and allows the government to regulate and tax commercial sale of marijuana and marijuana products. A NO VOTE does not change current laws relative to marijuana. This question is all over the place. The repercussions of legalizing marijuana usage are simply unknown. The repercussions of not legalizing marijuana usage are equally daunting; who wants a bunch of angry potheads? The tax revenue could be great, but the funds may need to be poured directly into law enforcement to protect citizens, depending on the effects of marijuana usage. More studies on marijuana can be explored after legalization—studies that could reveal potential benevolences of marijuana, or studies that could reveal the destruction of marijuana.

Voting on these questions is important. How you’ll vote, or how you should vote, is out of my scope. Just know your vote matters because all of these ballot questions will affect your daily life in coming days, and you’ll want to have a say.