Controversial Ballot Questions Likely to Boost Massachusetts Voter Turnout
Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 20:10
As a self-proclaimed model for demoracy everywhere, the United States has an embarrassingly low voter turnout at elections. The government, however, does not make it easy to attribute this to a difficult voter registration process. Registration applications and deadlines are made available online in a number of languages. The same goes for absentee ballots - even a family member can vote for you with your consent. Measures are taken so that students, workers, the elderly, people with disabilities and the homeless all have access to elections. Frankly, all that is asked of an applicant is legible handwriting and a first class postage stamp.
While some will always try to find a justifiable excuse not to make it to elections, voter turnout is almost always higher in presidential election years. Higher levels of interest in a presidential candidate, not to mention the media hype, generally draw voters. In a political climate where some citizens are fed up by the presidential candidates even to the point of indifference, the state-wide ballot questions for Massachusetts are sure to draw extra voters to the election. Questions 2 and 3 should prove to be especially controversial and overshadow Question 1, which concerns car repair.
Question 2, Prescribing Medication to End Life, proposes a law that would allow doctors to do so for consenting, terminally ill patients. Patients would, of course, volunteer themselves for the treatment. While terminal illness is a requirement for the medication to be prescribed, some will undoubtedly label this as assisted-suicide and therefore find it unquestionably unacceptable. The Catholic Church, perhaps the most prominent religious group in Massachusetts, is of course adamantly against the possibility of such legislation. Many other religious groups share this sentiment and are sure to be outspoken. Strong opinions on an ethical question such as this will certainly motivate people to vote.
Question 3, Use of Medical Marijuana, introduces legislation that would make medical marijuana legal, as well as institute centers for its distribution. Medical marijuana is a natural and non-addictive way to ease pain and eliminate nausea caused by a number of chronic diseases and conditions.
Thus far, seventeen states have legalized medical marijuana - four of which are located in New England. While the proposed law is not exactly innovative, legalization of the substance calls for controversy. Many opponents point out that the system would likely be abused and lead to worse drug problems in the state. Possession of less than an ounce of marijuana was decriminalized in 2009 in Massachusetts, so those in support of legalization will be looking to push the issue one step further, while those opposed will be more inclined to also have their say.
As a citizen of this country, this is your chance to choose your own representation, to make decisions that will directly affect your welfare, as well as the welfare of many who do not have the privilege and opportunity to vote. Even if political rhetoric has you discouraged, there is certainly still something to be passionate about on this year’s ballot.