What We've Gotten Out of the Election So Far
Some good news!
Some good news!
Text: Juliana Bakumenko
While several states continue to count their ballots for the Presidential Election, and yes, we’re waiting for every single one to be counted, it’s important to recognize the good that has already come out of this year’s general election.
As you know, if you were able to vote, the ballot consists of many more choices than just the President. To enact positive change in our communities, we need to be aware of what else is on the ballot every time we vote, and vote for representatives and laws that reflect positive change. If you’ve already read about the trailblazing elected officials who won on Tuesday, here are some of the groundbreaking policy changes to come out of the election so far. (If you haven’t read about the latest elected representatives, what are you waiting for? Read more here.)
Oregon has passed policy that decriminalizes the possession of heroin, methamphetamines, LSD, oxycodone and other hard drugs, offering addiction recovery centers rather than sentencing jail time, which is how every other state operates. This is a major step forward in the way that people with addictions should be treated, with more humanity and understanding, and will hopefully lead to lower incarceration rates, especially among Black and Latino communities. Oregon has also approved Psilocybin therapy, which is essentially the use of shrooms to treat depression and other mental health issues.
A hot topic over the years, the legalization of marijuana was put up to a vote in five different state ballots this election, and passed in all of them. Arizona and New Jersey have legalized cannabis for anyone 21 and over, Montana legalized recreational use, South Dakota legalized both medical and recreational use, and Mississippi legalized the medicinal use of marijuana. As more states push toward legalization, the next step for states that now legally allow recreational and medical marijuana should be to release all people incarcerated on marijuana charges.
Same-Sex Marriage Equality
Though legalized by the Supreme Court in 2015, each state has its own amendments and bans on same-sex marriage. Nevada is the first state to protect same-sex marriage in its state constitution.
Colorado voters have approved a the establishment of a new paid medical and family leave law, statewide, hoping to be fully in effect by 2024.
Washington state has passed a comprehensive sex ed curriculum for public schools, topics of sexual health ranging from LGBTQIA sex to the topic of consent. The lessons start in kindergarten, with age-appropriate topics covered each year up to high school graduation.
A sign of progress, Florida has become the eighth state to approve $15 minimum wage per hour. Effective next September, the state’s minimum wage will start at $10 and rise by one dollar annually until it reaches $15 in 2026.
Though this should’ve been done much sooner, 68% of Mississippi voters voted to change the state flag, replacing the 126-year old banner which displayed the Confederate flag.
Voting Rights for People with Convictions
Voters in California have passed Proposition 17, restoring the voting rights of formerly incarcerated people upon completion of their terms. The state constitution already protects the voting rights of people on probation and people in county jails can vote, though people incarcerated on felony convictions are still not able to vote.
There is absolutely more change that needs to be done, but if we could all take a minute to recognize the steps being taken around us, it does provide further hope. Look into your own state’s local election results, and see if there are any positive changes happening closer to you. And if you’re looking to de-stress more, V has you covered with some great self-care tips.