Last week’s blog focused on the ballot measures in different states regarding voting rights and cannabis legalization. Many states have ballot measures on other topics; this week we’ll discuss more of the initiatives on which voters will decide this November.
Enslavement, Servitude, and Criminal Punishment
Still today, 20 state constitutions include language that permits “enslavement or servitude as punishments for crimes.” Five states will vote this fall to keep or remove involuntary servitude from the state’s laws.
- Alabama voters will decide on the “Alabama Recompiled Constitution Ratification Question” which, among other provisions, would permanently remove all racist language. If approved, the state constitution will no longer have racist language regarding involuntary servitude, interracial marriage, school segregation, and poll taxes.
- On the Louisiana ballot, voters will decide on a constitutional amendment to remove or keep language that allows involuntary servitude as punishment for a crime. However, if the ballot measure passes, it would add a section saying it “does not apply to the otherwise lawful administration of criminal justice.”
- Oregon voters will decide on a similar ballot measure. If approved, it would remove language allowing slavery and involuntary servitude as criminal punishments, while adding language authorizing Oregon authorities to sentence convicted individuals with alternatives to incarceration.
- Tennessee’s ballot measure is rather simple. If approved, the constitution would read “Slavery and involuntary servitude are forever prohibited.”
- The constitutional amendment ballot measure in Vermont is also straightforward. It would replace repealed language with “slavery and indentured servitude in any form are prohibited.”
The overturning of Roe v. Wade this summer popularized abortion ballot measures. Five states have abortion on the midterm ballot.
- With Proposition 1 on the ballot, California voters have the opportunity to enshrine abortion and contraceptive rights into the state constitution.
- Michigan voters will decide this fall on Proposal 3, called the Right to Reproductive Freedom Initiative. If passed, the state would implement broad reproductive freedom healthcare protections.
- In Vermont, voters will decide on Proposal 5, named the Right to Personal Reproductive Autonomy Amendment. If approved, the Vermont Constitution will protect reproductive autonomy and prohibit government infringement.
- Voters in Kentucky will decide on a constitutional amendment similar to the one Kansans voted down in August. If approved, the Kentucky Constitution would not protect the right to an abortion or government funding for abortion.
- Montana is the final state with an abortion-related initiative on the midterm ballot. LR-131, if passed, would institute a state statute saying that infants born alive at any stage are people and they must be given medical care. The law specifically mentions babies born after induced labor, cesarean section, attempted abortion, or other methods.