Massachusetts Citizens Set to Vote on Ballot Questions
by Rachael Allen on Friday, November 2nd, 2012
In a few days time, the citizens of Massachusetts will have voted not only for President, but also on three very important ballot questions. According to BallotPedia, this year, 39 states have a total of 188 questions on their ballots, most concerning issues like “taxes, administration of government, bond issues, [the] judiciary and law enforcement.” Some states have already had early voting, but Massachusetts will vote on its three ballot questions on November 6th.
Ballot Question 1 deals with the availability of motor vehicle repair information. As detailed in the Massachusetts Information for Voters booklet that is mailed to all registered voters, Question 1 would require car manufacturers to make available for fair purchase the repair information and tools for their cars to independent repair facilities and vehicle owners; this law would not, however, force manufacturers to release “trade secrets.”
Arthur Kinsman, of the pro-Question 1 Massachusetts Right to Repair Committee, argues that the measure “make[s] it more convenient and less expensive for car owners to get car[s] repair[ed]… you should get it fixed where you want.”
David Martin, a member of the Citizens Committee for Safe and Fair Repair, disagrees, saying that “a ‘no’ vote protects consumer safety and ensure[s] vehicle choice.” One Class II student was in favor of Question 1, feeling that car dealerships should not monopolize car repairs. Another Class II student was opposed because car dealerships are more specialized in the cars they sell, and thus have more knowledge about how to repair a specific type of car.
Ballot Question 2 regards physician-assisted suicide. If passed, this law would allow physicians to prescribe life-ending drugs to adult patients who are “mentally capable of making and communicating health care decisions,” “diagnosed…[with] an incurable and irreversible disease that will, within reasonable medical judgment, cause death within six months,” and who have “voluntarily express[ed] a wish to die.”
Washington and Oregon are the only states where physician-assisted suicide is legal, while 34 states have explicitly outlawed the practice. Those in favor of the law refer to it as “Death with Dignity.” In the Massachusetts Information for Voters packet, Heather Clish, who authored the booklet’s pro-Question 2 piece, argues for the legality of physician-assisted suicide due to her personal connection with its benefits. Her terminally ill father went to his home state of Oregon to die “in the comfort of his own home; competent and aware instead of detached and sedated; on his own terms instead of those of a fatal disease that had already taken too much.”
According to a University of Massachusetts poll, voters are 65% in favor of this law passing. But organizations like the Roman Catholic Church, Massachusetts Medical Society, and The Committee Against Physician Assisted Suicide, feel this law is not written suitably to include proper safeguards, nor does it acknowledge the fact the doctors, at times, are incorrect in their estimates of death.
The Roman Catholic Church believes one cannot take another’s life under any circumstances, and this law would put a doctor in the position of choosing between life and death and going against the doctor’s oath to protect and work for the patients’ lives.
Six Class II students expressed support for this law, believing that people should be able to “die with dignity.” They felt that taking such a measure was difficult to relate to personally, but all thought that if Question 2 ends peoples’ suffering, as does euthanasia for pets and do-not-resuscitate orders, then it should be passed.
Ballot Question 3 pertains to the medical use of marijuana. This law would legalize medical marijuana for patients “diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition.” Non-profit medical marijuana treatment centers would be allowed to “grow, process, and provide marijuana to patients and their caregivers.”
Those in favor believe this law could lessen the pain and suffering of many patients with diseases such as cancer, Parkinson’s, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, and glaucoma. Those against feel there are too many loopholes that allow “virtually anyone [to] grow pot…[and] operate a pot shop in your neighborhood to sell marijuana for any ‘medical’ reason-not just for the seriously ill,” as opponent Dr. Jay Broadhurst argues. In addition, there is already a marijuana pill, Marinol, available for prescription. Two Class II students said they support this law, citing the need to ease patients pain.
Other states are dealing with similarly controversial questions. California has 11 ballot questions, including one which would end the death penalty, while Florida has 12 constitutional amendments on its ballot this year. Super PACs and campaigns have spent millions of dollars fighting for people’s votes over issues “ranging from abortion-funding restrictions to big property-tax breaks and [the] repeal of language barring state money to religious groups,” the Orlando Sentinel reports.
In Maryland, where early voting went from Saturday October 27th to November 1st, voters will make decisions on ballot questions related to gambling, in-state tuition for illegal-immigrants, Maryland’s congressional redistricting map, and same-sex marriage.
Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Nevada, South Carolina, and West Virginia each have only one ballot question, dealing with pensions, taxation of boats, hunting and fishing, holding special legislative sessions, choosing running mates for lieutenant governor, and county sheriff’s term limits, respectively. North Carolina has no questions this November, but in May defined marriage as between a man and a woman.
As November 6 approaches, the results of many such ballot questions may drastically affect many peoples’ lives across the country.
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