Mostly Good News on Ballot Proposals | National Review

Mostly Good News on Ballot Proposals | National Review

People cast their ballots in Manhattan N.Y., November 2, 2021. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Voters across the country yesterday cast their ballots not only for candidates but also for a variety of ballot proposals, initiatives, referenda, propositions, etc. I noted several of those last night in my guide of votes to watch. Here’s how they turned out:

In Minneapolis, voters decisively rejected a “Defund the Police Lite” effort to disband the city’s police department, eliminate minimum requirements of police officers, and establish instead a “Department of Public Safety,” which would retain discretion to rehire some of the cops, and was expected to do so. We editorialized against this proposal. While proponents of the plan took pains not to frame this as a full defunding and elimination of the police department, they clearly hoped that the progressive city that witnessed the murder of George Floyd would be the most sympathetic grounds to kickstart a national movement that many Democrats blamed for damaging their party at the polls in 2020. It didn’t work. By contrast, in Austin, Texas, where there have already been cutbacks to the police department, voters chose by nearly a two-to-one margin not to back a ballot proposal that would restore many of the cuts. Both in Minneapolis and Austin, opponents had status quo bias in their favor, and in Austin, opponents also argued that hiring more cops would require laying off firemen and teachers. In Cleveland, voters approved a more modest city charter revision, favored by progressives, to impose more outside supervision on the police. While this is hardly a clean sweep for pro-law enforcement views, the defeat in Minneapolis may be a death blow to open advocacy of eliminating police departments.

In New York, we had editorialized against Proposals 1, 3, and 4, which would have helped Democrats draw partisan gerrymanders and authorize same-day voter registration and universal mail-in balloting. All three appear to have failed by double-digit margins, reflecting the wide disconnect between progressive commentators — who see opposition to things like same-day registration and mail-in balloting as explainable only by racist voter suppression — and the actual voters of a very liberal state.

The news on economic proposals was less encouraging. Proposal 2 in New York, which we also opposed, passed with over 60 percent of the vote; it would allow “each person” to sue to prevent anything that interferes with a “right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment.” Who could be against that? New Yorkers will doubtless live to regret this, as it will further stymie economic development and activity. More ominously in the short run, lawyers may test whether the reference to “a healthful environment” allows any random person to sue to impose COVID restrictions. Naturally, progressives who profess to be horrified by this sort of authorization to sue in the abortion context had no such objections here. In Colorado, nearly 57 percent of the voters rejected a $1 billion a year property tax cut, but by almost the same margins, rejected a proposal to raise sales taxes on marijuana to fund education. In Tuscon, Ariz., almost 60 percent of voters approved a hike in the local minimum wage, which will rise gradually to $15 an hour.

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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.