“Regardless of what happens, we’re going to have to bring it back to get it cleared up either way,”
US voters are set to vote on whacky issues including slavery in the upcoming Midterm elections on November 8.
Some of the voting ballots will also include decisions for voters to be made on issues like closing slavery loopholes, abortion rights and the use of marijuana.
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The ballot measures are done at the state and local levels and involve issues that are both large and small.
For example, the state of South Dakota is set to decide whether to legalise marijuana for people over 21, while residents of Wake County in North Carolina can decide whether $530.7 million (£463.7 million) in bonds is issued for school buildings and facilities.
Proposition 125 in Colorado hopes to allow shops and businesses licensed to sell beer to also flog wine and conduct wine tastings.
There are plenty of remarkable issues set to be decided upon as people head to the polls on November 8.
We have taken a look at some of the most significant.
Technically under US law, a version of slavery still exists and five states will now decide if the loopholes that allow for it should be closed.
Alabama, Louisiana, Oregon, Tennessee and Vermont all have similar amendments asking voters if they want forced labour to be outlawed when people are convicted of certain crimes.
To this day, the 13th amendment remains controversial despite its origin as a law that allowed for the emancipation of around four million enslaved people in the US at the time.
This is because the amendment outlaws slavery, but explicitly says “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted”.
Democrat and State Representative Edmond Jordan (D) said the way the proposal was worded in his state of Louisiana was “confusing”.
He asked voters to vote no to the proposal so legislators can “go and clean it up with the intent of bringing it back next year and making sure that the language is clear and unambiguous”.
“Regardless of what happens, we’re going to have to bring it back to get it cleared up either way,” he said. “But either way, it is my intent to bring it back next year and make sure that the language is clearer, and that there is no confusion.”
The Vote Yes on 7 coalition urged people to vote yes on the ballot despite the use of “misleading” language.
The issue is common and three states voted to amend language that allowed the use of slavery and involuntary servitude as criminal punishments.
They were Colorado in 2018 and Utah and Nebraska in 2020.
Amendments to state constitutions on this issue are part of a wider push on the national level to change the 13th amendment.
The US dissolved into a civil war over the issues of slavery in 1861. It led to a massive death toll and bitter resentment among southern secession states, many of whom enacted the so-called ‘Jim Crow’ laws that allowed for segregation.
To this day, campaigners cite racial tension in divisions while targeting the change of certain laws.
As such, many argue the 13th amendment should be amended to ban the use of free or forced labour inside prison walls as African Americans are five times more likely to be subjected to the laws.
The new amendments would only lead to legal challenges to prisons in the named states regarding how they use labour inside prison walls.
Voluntary prison work is also controversial and inmates in some jails can face punishments for choosing not to be involved such as denied phone calls or solitary confinement while being paid only a few cents or even less every hour.
Businesses such as the Texas Correctional Industries can make large amounts of cash while paying a pittance for the labour that produced their products.
The voting issue ahead of this year’s election is highly contentious and 2022 is the year that will feature the most abortion-related ballot measures ever.
Measures come after The Supreme Court decided to overturn the Roe v Wade ruling in 1973 that ruled the US constitution protected a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy.
Montana intends to impose tough penalties on health workers who do not provide care to an embryo or foetus if it is born alive. The penalties included up to 20 years in prison and a $50,000 fine (£43,500).
The overturning of Roe Vs Wade has had a major impact on US politics and women in the country
State Representative Matt Regier introduced the legislation and said: “We need to make it abundantly clear that here in Montana, the protection of all life is available.”
The politician says the proposal is to make sure infants that survived abortions are not left to die, but those against it say it puts pressure on health workers to try and remove a foetus in an attempt to save it.
Those against the measure say the law will put an unfair burden on healthcare workers and that mandated treatments – the proposal does not make clear what such treatments are – will stop the parents from holding their child before it dies.
Foetuses surviving abortions is a rare phenomenon and only around 1% of all abortions in the US occur after 21 weeks into a pregnancy.
The point at which a foetus is considered to be able to survive outside the womb is after 22 weeks.
In Kentucky, there is a proposal to amend the Bill of Rights of the Kentucky Constitution to say the state does not have to fund abortion or protect or secure a right to it
In California, Michigan and Vermont there are proposals to create a state right to reproductive freedom and this includes the right to have an abortion.
There are two key issues regarding the use of guns included in ballot measures and this includes a proposal in Iowa to protect the right to bear arms in the state constitution.
Amendment One will aim to subject people “to strict scrutiny” if they attempt to infringe on “the right to keep and bear arms as a fundamental right”.
Opponents of the law say it will make it very difficult for the state to pass legislation introducing gun restrictions.
Todd Pettys, Professor of Law at the University of Iowa, explained to KCRG: “Any of those would be subject to challenge by someone who says, by virtue of this law, even if it’s been on the books for many years, if that law can’t satisfy strict scrutiny, then you can’t apply it to me, that would be a court challenge.”
Only Alabama, Missouri and Louisiana have the “strict scrutiny” language included in their state constitutions but rank among the top five states with the highest rate of gun deaths.
In Oregon, there is a ballot measure attempting to require permits issued by local law enforcement to buy a firearm, the need for photo ID, background checks and fingerprints and the banning of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
The issue of gun violence in the US remains a strongly divisive issue as those who want to protect their right to bear arms oppose any form of gun restrictions.
The right to bear arms is enshrined in the US Constitution’s second amendment, though modern-day advocates of gun restrictions say it is unlikely the founding fathers had a semi-automatic AR-15 in mind when they penned the document.
Gun culture is very much a part of the cultural fabric in the country and there are more guns than people, though there are severe problems with gun violence.
Between 1968 and 2017, around 1.5 million Americans were killed by a gun while 45,000 were killed in 2020 alone. Around 46% were non-suicides.
The topic becomes particularly contentious in the wake of major gun crimes like mass shootings.
Teenager Salvadore Ramos rampaged through Robb Elementary School in May this year, killing children as young as nine. He murdered a total of nineteen students and two teachers.
In response, President Joe Biden incentivised states to enact red flag laws in which people can petition civil courts to remove a firearm from a person who may be a danger to themselves or others.