Sunday, July 12, 2020

Editorial: Vote yes on all three proposals

The three proposals on the Nov. 6 ballot present tangible, pro-democracy initiatives and The State News recommends a “Yes” vote for all three.

Proposal 1, which would legalize recreational marijuana use and possession, is estimated to bring in hundreds of millions in tax revenue that can be used to fix Michigan’s roads and support schools. 

The financial benefits are not the only reason to vote “Yes.” The legalization of marijuana will be a step forward in criminal justice reform, no longer leading to the imprisonment of non-violent drug offenders. Several violations will also be downgraded to civil infractions, punishable only by a fine and forfeiture. Fewer lives will be ruined for victimless crimes — and law enforcement resources can be redistributed to more important tasks.

We are disappointed the proposal does not guarantee clemency for those already convicted of crimes it would invalidate. For all the good this proposal will do, it will mean nothing if those serving egregious sentences or struggling to find work with a conviction on their record are not given justice. We are not comfortable leaving responsibility in the hands of the legislature, though we strongly advocate they take action.

Proposal 2 received attention from out-of-state because it concerns a nationwide issue: Gerrymandering, otherwise known as the drawing of congressional districts for partisan benefit instead of proper representation. 

Proposal 2 would create an independent commission of randomly-chosen voters to draw districts transparently, with all meetings, materials and methods used being public. Four Republicans, four Democrats and five independent or third party-affiliated voters would staff the commission, with final maps requiring the approval of at least seven members, two of which must come from each group. 

It’s yet to see how this process will play out once enacted. As with any major change, some concern remains. This proposed solution offers a better alternative than playing partisan games with Michigan’s electoral maps, which some argue are among the most egregiously gerrymandered in the nation. 

Emails show Republican politicians have packed “Dem garbage” into small Detroit-area districts, and some Detroit districts are drawn blatantly among racial lines.

Michigan’s Eighth District is among those gerrymandered. It stretches as far west as Greater Lansing and as far east as Rochester Hills – two very separate areas placed under one representative.

To create better representation for our state and to set an example for other states across the union, The State News urges you to reject partisanship in the redistricting process and vote “Yes” on Proposal 2.

Proposal 3 is a collection of provisions easing Michigan voters’ access to the polls. No-reason absentee voting, automatic voter registration upon receiving a state i.d. and same-day voter registration in the two weeks before and including election day are among the provisions that would be enshrined in the Michigan constitution should the proposal pass. 

The proposal would also bring back straight-ticket voting and lay the issue to rest by making the option a constitutional right.

The right to vote is essential to a functioning democracy. This proposal makes exercising that right easier. We recommend you vote “Yes.”

The State News Editorial Board is made up of the Editor-in-Chief Marie Weidmayer, Managing Editor Riley Murdock, Campus Editor Kaitlyn Kelley, City Editor Maxwell Evans, Features Editor Claire Moore, Sports Editor Michael Duke, Photo Editor Matt Schmucker, Copy Chief Alan Hettinger, Diversity Representative S.F. McGlone and Staff Representative Anna Liz Nichols.

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