Beyond the horse race: 3 interesting victorious ballot initiates in the 2018 midterms

Image from CNN

A few days ago, a historic 113 million votes were cast in the 2018 US midterm elections. The dominant focus of attention on this race has been the fate of the makeup of the House of Congress, and the fate of a third of Senate Seats. Characterised by both the president himself and some of his fiercest critics as a referendum on Trumpism, a dominant narrative has emerged, a narrative of adversary and resistance. The Democrats needed to be stopped unless Americans wanted more illegal immigration and crime, Trump claimed. Nancy Pelosi, the then-House minority leader stated the midterms would be a peoples rebuke to the GOP, either a blue wave or tsunami was coming.

The centrepiece of this confrontation would be the battle for Congress, and Senate Seats. However, the midterms are more than just this, governorships, gubernatorial races and ballot initiatives all occur, all have a significant impact upon the nation’s politics. In respect to this article focus, Ballot initiates, these amendments proposed to the electorate act as a form of direct democracy on proposed laws or acts can bring in significant reforms to the politics of a local state.

By highlighting some important ballot initiatives, we can look beyond the spectacle of the mid-terms ‘two horse races’, and at a significant, but perhaps overlooked outcomes of the midterms in five states: Florida, Michigan and California. From enfranchisement and taxes to drug laws, voters in these states voted for a lot more than just a candidate with a D or R after their name.

Florida — Felon suffrage

Florida, the state that makes elections interesting, to say the least, saw a major development in the state’s suffrage as part of the amendment 4 ballot initiative. Passed with 64% of the vote, the amendment sought to automatically restore the right of those with prior felony convictions (barring murder and sex offences) to vote. The ramifications of the vote are large. Florida’s disenfranchised population, 1.5 million, accounted for 48% of the countries post-sentence disenfranchisement total, the amendment would add then add, considering the murder and sex offence forfeits, 1.4 million to the electorate. This vote has significantly impacted the black community, with 21% of the African American community disenfranchised. This has led some to claim that the state could become more favourable to the Democrats.

Michigan — Marijuana legalisation

Following the victory of Proposition 1, Michigan has followed the steps of Colorado and California to legalise Marijuana for recreational use. Passed with 55% of the vote, the State is the first in the Midwest to legalise the drug. Several associated conditions to the legalisation include an individual being 21 to purchase or grow up to 12 Plans for personal consumption, a 10-ounce limit on the drug kept at residences, and a new sales tax of 10% to fund schools, roads and municipalities. The proposal also stipulates that the drug cannot be grown in view of the public, and that will not be allowed to be smoked in public, according to Josh Hovey, spokesman for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol.

California — Taxes rise to tackle social issues

With the Golden State home to 134,278 homeless, among the highest in the country, a number that is growing fast, Ballot proposal 2 offered some form of response to the crisis. Californians voted 61% to 38% to raise $2 Billion for the homeless with mental health issues via a 1% income tax on those earning over $1 million. According to the key proponents of the bill, it would provide 20,000 supportive housing units. Such proposals will surely be felt in major cities, such as LA, where there are 31,000 homeless people, with 27% of those estimated to be seriously mentally ill.