Many voters feel learning enough about the measure to be fully informed often isn’t worth the time.
This Tuesday, voters will be choosing more than our next president.
California voters have the opportunity to abolish the death penalty. Legalization of marijuana is a ballot issue in Oregon. Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington could legalize same-sex marriage. Voters in Florida could pull funding on abortions. Massachusetts could legalize physician-assisted suicide.
Huge changes for many states could take place based on these key ballot measures, but are voters actually aware of these propositions?
There are a total of 176 measures in 38 states that will be on the ballots Tuesday, according to Initiative and Referendum Institute at the University of Southern California.
Jessica Applefeld, a junior at Santa Clara University, is choosing to vote by absentee ballot in her home state of Arizona rather than in California, where she goes to school.
“I only did the major things because I didn’t have time to read and research all the extra measures,” Applefeld said.
Despite avoiding wordy measures on the Arizona ballot, Applefeld said if she had voted in California she would have cast a vote on the death penalty proposition. She believes that one vote can make a difference regarding ballot measures.
However, many voters feel learning enough about the measure to be fully informed often isn’t worth the time.
In Arizona, three out of four voters said they found propositions “too complicated and confusing to understand,” according to a Morrison Institute Poll.
Over 20% of these voters don’t vote on measures and 5.5% just vote “no” if they don’t understand the proposition.
“Voters care more about politicians just because it’s the face of the person and it’s somebody that they can relate to, and so they don’t care about the ballot measures, because it involves reading and it involves research. But if they’re voting, it’s just a face and it’s like, yeah, I can get behind that guy,” said Kevin Sullivan, a junior at University of Oregon and media coordinator for the state’s Vote or Vote campaign through Oregon Student Association.
While students struggle to find the time to research ballot measures, many propositions could have significant effects on college students.
In terms of higher education, if California’s Proposition 30 is passed, a tax increase would provide more money to the university system.
While Maryland’s DREAM ACT would allow undocumented students to attend school at in-state tuition rates.
Ryan Fecteau, a junior at The Catholic University of America, has been working tirelessly to get a same-sex marriage proposition passed in Maine.
“After hundreds of thousands of signatures gathered, we are on the ballot to pass marriage for same-sex couples. This is the most important thing to me and I really hope that our emotional and tireless work will lead to a victory,” Feceatu said.
Fecteau sees elected officials as most important on the ballot because they ultimately set policy and draft what appears on the ballot. However, he thinks ballot measures are what hit most close to home and he voted on every single one during early voting.
The president and vice president are elected by the Electoral College, but propositions are determined by popular vote.
“I feel like a lot of voters only vote in the presidential race. Meaning that those who vote on ballot measures might have more impact because less people will be voting on the measures. Therefore, If students were to vote en masse, they could have a huge say on the outcome of ballot measures,” Sullivan said.
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