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Ballot Initiatives Across the Country Overwhelmingly Positive, Leading to Historic Gains on Important Issues

National Council of Jewish Women
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Ballot Initiatives Across the Country Overwhelmingly Positive, Leading to Historic Gains on Important Issues

November 7, 2018, Washington, DC — Yesterday, voters nationwide made their voices heard at the polls during our midterm elections. The stakes were high this year, as the issues we care about were center stage. In addition to crucial gubernatorial, house, and senate races, some of the nation’s most important decisions were made on the back of the ballot, by way of state ballot initiatives. NCJW supported section efforts across the country, including in Florida, Michigan, Washington State, Louisiana and Arizona on important issues like voters’ rights, gerrymandering, gun safety, incarceration, and public school funding.

Our reactions to yesterday’s election results are as follows:

Amendment 4 (FL):
Yesterday, Florida voters restored voting access to 1.4 million people with previous felony convictions. NCJW Florida advocates and partners have been active for months to ensure that those who have paid their full debt to society have a chance to participate in our democracy. The passage of Amendment 4 is a win for racial justice and for democracy writ large.

Says NCJW Florida State Policy Advocate Linda Geller-Schwartz, “[l]ast night, there was a great victory for democracy in Florida with the passage of Amendment #4. Now, 1.4 million ex-felons, who have completed all terms of their sentences and paid their full debt to society, will automatically have their eligibility to vote restored. This basic right can no longer be systemically and arbitrarily denied to them. NCJW and the Jewish Coalition for #4 worked hard to have this amendment passed and we are thrilled that Florida can now join the other 46 states in the nation that long ago abandoned these discriminatory practices.”

Proposal 2 (MI):
NCJW has been on the ground in Michigan from the beginning to help create a nonpartisan redistricting plan that would end gerrymandering in the state. Until today, legislators have been drawing voting maps without input from citizens. The passage of Proposal 2 establishes a redistricting process that is transparent, nonpartisan, and citizen-driven.

NCJW Michigan State Policy Advocate Irma Glaser released the following statement:
“NCJW Michigan is proud to have been a part of the all-volunteer effort to pass Proposal 2 to end our state legislature’s egregious gerrymandering of Michigan’s voting districts. The hard work and tireless dedication of all of the volunteers, and the willingness of citizens to learn about redistricting and gerrymandering means that we will have a good chance for our voices to be heard on our issues. The success of this campaign should serve as a model to other states that can benefit from voters, not politicians, deciding voting maps.”

Initiative 1639 (WA):
Washington state voted for safer communities and schools statewide by approving Initiative 1639.
I-1639 puts commonsense measures in place to ensure that semi-automatic assault rifles cannot be purchased without a waiting period by anyone under age 21, and instituting comprehensive background checks and “lock it up” regulations. Raising the age to purchase, enhancing background checks, and requiring training and waiting periods are all simple and effective ways to combat gun violence and reduce gun-related deaths. NCJW leaders in WA state have worked hard for 20 years in WA to get life-saving GVP measures on the ballot.

Amendment 2 (LA):
Louisiana voters struck down a Jim Crow-era law by ending the practice of split-jury convictions. The law has historically disproportionately impacted African Americans in the state, which has the second highest incarceration rate in the nation. NCJW advocates worked to get out of the vote and urge people to vote yes on the amendment.

Proposition 305 (AZ):
Empowerment Scholarship Amounts — aka vouchers — were on the ballot in Arizona. Proposition 305 would have expanded private school vouchers to every child in the state, paying for it by taking money away from already underfunded public schools. NCJW urged voters to say “no” on Prop 305, ensuring that public funds go only to public schools. Arizona voters did their jobs yesterday, safeguarding public schools and the children they serve.

The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) is a grassroots organization of volunteers and advocates who turn progressive ideals into action. Inspired by Jewish values, NCJW strives for social justice by improving the quality of life for women, children, and families and by safeguarding individual rights and freedoms. More information on Facebook and on Twitter at @NCJW.

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