The midterm “why-bother” election?

vote

With voter turnout constantly underwhelming expectations, the midterm elections are just-as, if not more-important than the general, quadrennial elections held every 4-years. Midterm elections feature races for Governors, Senators, Representatives and other state-officials. Many individuals keep up with these races, but may be less familiar with ballot initiatives. Therefore, this blog post is going to summarize the issues appearing on the ballot on both sides of the state line.

Disclaimer: SFNKC takes no stance on any of the issues stated below. This post is meant to be a summary of the issues only. References are provided. Please remember to vote.

 

Missouri

Amendment 2 (Child Sex Crimes)

If passed, this would allow prior evidence of child sex crimes to be admissible in court against those accused of sexual crimes against a minor. This amendment involves what is known as propensatory evidence in jurisprudence. It means that evidence of one’s involvement in unlawful activity in the past can be used against you when accused of unlawful activity in the present.

Support: 40 other states already permit this action, including a federal law that allows propensatory evidence to be used in cases of sex crimes involving a minor. Provides context in sex offender cases by allowing the jury to be aware of potential repeat-offenders in court.

Opposition: Past evidence that was never proven can be used against you in an alternate crime. It makes the defense of that person more difficult because it takes multiple accusations under account that is not related to the current prosecution charges. Opposition says this undermines the notion of being “innocent until proven guilty.”

Additionally, opposition says this law provides precedence to expand previous, unproven evidence to other [non-sexual] cases of criminal prosecutions.

  • References

    http://ballotpedia.org/Missouri_Relevant_Criminal_Evidence_Amendment,_Amendment_2_(2014)

 

 

Amendment 3 (Teacher tenure):

This amendment would implement evaluations for previously tenured public school teachers by shifting them to 3-year contracts whereby then that individual may be dismissed, retained, demoted or promoted based on performance standards.

Support: Evaluating teachers based on performance rather than tenure and holds more accountability in public school system. Does away with the “last-in-first-out” system where ineffective teachers may be retained due to seniority while effective teachers may be dismissed. Also allows for regular re-evaluation similar to other professions.

Opposition: Undermines some job security teachers have and might teach to performance standards. Seen as an effort to fracture the bargaining power of teachers’ unions. The measure could force teachers to “teach to the test” and does not evaluate the full spectrum of a teachers’ effectiveness. Costs associated with additional standardized testing are unknown.

References

  • http://ballotpedia.org/Missouri_Teacher_Performance_Evaluation,_Amendment_3_(2014)

 

 

Amendment 6 (early voting):

Allows 6 days of advance voting in Missouri starting in 2016.

Support: An improvement to the current standards in that it expands the eligible voting period for those who cannot make it to the polls during the designated time.

Opposition: The amendment isn’t specific enough in that it doesn’t specify the exact dates for the early voting period, just 6 days. Those 6 days would not be on weekends or early/late business hours and therefore does not provide a sufficient alternative to the current eligible voting period. Most states allow two-weeks early voting that includes weekends and nights. The amount of money to allocate to this project isn’t defined.

References

  • http://ballotpedia.org/Missouri_Early_Voting_Period,_Amendment_6_(2014)

 

 

 

Amendment 10 (restricts governor’s power over budget):

One of the most controversial amendments on the ballot, this would decrease the governor’s authority to reassign budget allocations to alternate projects depending on surpluses or deficits in a given fiscal year.

Support: Limits the governor’s ability to shift tax revenue from project to project even when revenues collected meet projected estimates. Currently no restriction on how the governor chooses when or where to reallocate funds and therefore such reassignments might be biased based on pet projects.

Opposition: Undermines the governor’s authority to maintain a balanced budget when revenues collected differ from projections. Oppositions to the amendment says it undermines constitutionally assigned gubernatorial authority. Might alter the state’s bond-rating. Changing the current budget process might have unexpected consequences.

References

  • http://ballotpedia.org/Missouri_Gubernatorial_Budgetary_Recommendations,_Amendment_10_(2014)

 

 

Kansas City, MO voters

 

These two questions provide sales taxes to fund a light-rail line from KCI airport to the Plaza.
Question No. 1 asks, “Shall the City of Kansas City impose a sales tax of one-quarter percent for 25 years for the purpose of funding capital improvements?”

Question No. 2 asks, “Shall the City of Kansas City impose a sales tax of one-eighth percent for 25 years for the purpose of providing a source of funds for public transportation purposes?”

There is some back story to these questions that involves the light-rail advocate, Clay Chastain. He originally advocated for the light-rail initiative in Kansas City several years ago, and these two questions are the subsequent result of his work. However, Chastain now opposes these questions claiming that the wording of the original initiative has been so broadly altered that it is no longer about a KC light-rail.  In fact, the words “light-rail” do not appear on the ballot. The questions are broadly defined and there is a possibility that the monies collected would be allocated to other projects. Chastain is so perturbed by the issue that he is now running for the KC mayor.

References

      • https://www.kceb.org/useruploads/Sample_Ballots/Sample_Ballot-FINAL-9-18-2014.pdf
      • http://www.kshb.com/news/political/little-to-no-support-for-two-sales-tax-questions-on-ballot-in-kansas-city
      • http://www.bizjournals.com/kansascity/news/2014/10/28/kcmo-sales-tax-questions-find-little-support.html
      • http://www.bizjournals.com/kansascity/news/2014/10/01/chastain-vote-against-my-light-rail-plan.html
      • http://www.kansascity.com/news/government-politics/article3397784.html

 

 

 

 

KANSAS

 

Constitutional Amendment (raffles):

Support: Technically, raffles are considered gambling in the state and therefore are illegal. Currently, organizations such as schools and non-profits are able to hold raffles by categorizing them as a fundraiser. This amendment would decriminalize public raffles.

Opposition: There is no official stance against this amendment.
References

  • http://ballotpedia.org/Kansas_Charitable_Gaming_Measure,_SCR_1618_(2014)

 

 

 

Author: Angela N. Pierce,
Society for Neuroscience Early Career Policy Fellow

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