There are a few of them in every election cycle — ballot measures that leave voters scratching their heads and wondering, “What nitwit dreamed that up?” This election may be light in terms of races of national importance, but it’s nice to see that ingenuity for the inane penetrates every aspect of our electoral life.
Here are some of our favorites:
- The city of Berkeley, California, is putting to a vote a ban on people sitting on sidewalks in commercial areas between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. Residential areas, on the other hand, are fair game any hour of the day or night.
- In New York, a land dispute dating back to the 1800s will be settled if voters approve Proposition 4. The dispute, which has produced a number of court cases over the centuries, involves the state having taken land for the Adirondack Forest Preserve from owners who may or may not have been delinquent in paying taxes.
- Texas’ Proposition 3 would allow local governments to grant tax exemptions to businesses that temporarily warehouse aircraft parts in the state. Those that want to permanently warehouse aircraft parts are directed to make their inquiries in Oklahoma.
- Washington’s Initiative 517 would put in place penalties for intimidating people involved in petition drives, interfering with their efforts, or retaliating against them. We don’t know who’s been pushing who around out in Olympia, but opponents of the initiative maintain that it’s property and business owners who ought to be protected from overly aggressive political operatives. All of the muscle, if you’ll pardon the pun, behind the initiative has been provided by Tim Eyman, a “professional initiative sponsorer,” as the Chinook Observer described him. Tacoma’s News Tribune opined that if “Initiative 517 is successful, [Eyman] will declare his right to collect signatures for his next ballot measure in your kitchen.”
- The disenfranchised, mostly conservative voters of northern Colorado are being asked whether they want to secede from the state, which has tended too liberal for many of them in recent years. Ten counties would become Northern Colorado, the 51st state (theoretically, anyway, since the move would require approval by both the state legislature and the U.S. Congress). Moffat county in the northwest would prefer to glom, remora-like, onto Wyoming instead.
- Speaking of Colorado liberalism, the state’s voters are deciding in Proposition AA whether or not to impose a 10 percent sales tax on recreational marijuana — which is expected to increase Colorado’s coffers by around $40 million. Very little of that, it may be assumed, would come out of the pockets of the 350,000 or so people in the 11 counties voting on secession.