While a lot of the focus of November 8th is on the presidential election, there are four more questions on your ballet you should probably pay attention too. The questions have more relevance for the state as an individual, but can be confusing. So if you’re a Massachusetts resident or even a local student trying to figure out you’re being asked to vote on, here are the 2016 Ballot Questions explained and broken down for you.
Question 1: Should the state create one additional permit for a slots-only gambling parlor?
Before looking into it, I had absolutely no clue what this was even referencing too. Basically, Massachusetts currently has three resort casinos and one slots parlor spread throughout the state, the most it can have according to the Massachusetts Expanded Gaming Act of 2011. The question is asking voters if the state should grant the Massachusetts Gaming Commission the ability to issue one more slots license. This slot parlor would most likely be located in Suffolk Downs.
So, by voting for Question 1, you would either be supporting or opposing the opening of another slot parlor in the state. Do with that what you will!
Question 2: Should the state add more charter schools?
Charter schools are essentially a small public school, still publically funded but require families to submit applications for their kids and only accept a limited amount. Aside from having to apply, charter schools are different from public schools because they have a higher expectation of academic performance than public schools do, which is why there is an application process. Question 2 would allow the addition of up to 12 new charter schools a year or the ability to expand existing charter schools by increasing the enrollment. Those in favor see more children having the opportunity to attend great charter schools and excel academically. Those who oppose this movement see that it would take away funding from public schools in the area and, for districts with already limited funding, take away opportunities for students to thrive
By voting yes to this question, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education would add up to 12 new charter school throughout the state each year, providing more opportunities for Massachusetts children to attend schools that encourage and require higher academic performances. By voting no, the current laws regarding charter schools would remain the same and the funding that goes toward both charter and public school would remain persistent.
Question 3: Should the state ban the sale of eggs and meat from animals confined in a cruel manner?
This question is a little more straight-forward. The proposal defines cruel confinement as any means that would prevent animals from lying, standing, extending their limbs, or turning around.
Those who oppose this bill argue that it’s pointless, seeing how Massachusetts doesn’t have a prominent industrial farming presence. However, those who would vote yes would help ban the sales of products gathered from animals that were raised in these conditions, whether from Massachusetts or elsewhere.
Question 4: Should the state legalize and tax marijuana?
Yup, you read that right! With the passing of this bill, marijuana would be legal for those 21 and older. Using, growing, and possessing marijuana would be legal, and licensed shops would even be able to sell it! There would be a 10% sales tax (an additional 3.75% to the already existing 6.25%) and cities and towns would have the option to add an additional 2% local tax. It’s estimated that legal marijuana could be a billion-dollar industry in the state by 2020.
Another straight-forward question; voting yes would legalize marijuana and voting no would keep its current illegal status.
While voting for the presidential candidate is scary and confusing, the other questions don’t need to be so complex. Now that the ballot has been explained a little further, go out there and get your vote on!