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Massachusetts voters examine three ballot questions

Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 08:11


In addition to voting for public office, Massachusetts voters this year had three ballot measures to decide on concerning the statewide legalization of assisted suicide, medical marijuana and expansion of repair options for vehicle owners.

Question 1 was referred to on the ballot as the “Right to Repair Initiative.” This law grants vehicle owners and independent facilities the rights and information necessary to perform repair work on vehicles, which is currently restricted to authorized state dealers and repair facilities. It would give smaller garages the chance to do better business and operate on a wider basis.

Junior Nick Taylor, a registered Massachusetts voter, said he was unsure about Question 2, which would legalize assisted suicide, before the polls opened, but would vote in favor of the other two. He expressed interest in Question 1, which passed by an 85 percent majority.

“The right to repair just makes sense from my point of view,” Taylor said. “I think it levels the playing field for dealers everywhere ... It’ll be easier to go to a dealer that you can trust and know that you’re getting what you need from them. Plus, it supports local businesses — it increases the number of local garages where cars can be fixed, which will help them out a lot.”

Question 2 concerns the “Act Relative to Death with Dignity,” which would grant terminally ill patients in Massachusetts — people identified with six months to live or less — the right to receive a lethal medication from their own physician.

Tyler Maher, a sophomore, voted for all three ballot questions this year and expressed his support for Question 2.

“If someone’s been so reduced that they want to die, they should be able to die with dignity,” he said. “I don’t think a person should have to suffer, and I think it’s more merciful to allow them to choose their own life, especially because death is so personal.”

Sophomore Tom Mason chose to vote in favor of all three ballot questions but recognized that there may be some hesitation among more conservative voters regarding Question 2.

“Anyone who identifies themselves as a practicing Christian, I expect would be opposed to this, as one of the tenets of Christianity is that suicide is a damning sin,” he said. 

Nonetheless, Mason voted to support assisted suicide on Election Day.

“I still believe it’s ultimately [the patients’] right to choose to end their own lives,” he said. “While people who aren’t terminally ill should be advised against it, it should ultimately be their own decision.”

At press time, the measure failed to pass by a slim 51 percent majority. Junior Jamie Hoagland, a member of the Institute for Political Citizenship, said he was not surprised by this marginal outcome. 

“It [was] going to come down to the wire,” he said. “It’s not really a partisan issue, and in the Commonwealth we have a lot of Catholics.” 

Question 3, known as the “Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Initiative,” would make it legal for state doctors to prescribe marijuana to their patients for medicinal purposes.

“We should be able to take advantage of its healing power, and doctors should be able to prescribe it if they so choose,” Maher said.

“I say legalize it, as it gives the U.S. a huge taxable crop,” Taylor added. 

After the marijuana initiative passed by a 63-percent majority, junior Lauren Traitz, co-president of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), expressed her excitement.

“I’m very happy about it,” she said. “I think one aspect of it is that movements like this [suggest] this growing trend among people in this state toward more liberal drug policies.”

“I think that when it comes to states versus the federal government, the states are better at representing the people ... and when we have ballot initiatives like this passing it sort of is a nice flag to the federal government,” Traitz added. “It reflects the desire of the people.”

SSDP co-President Allison Wilens, a junior, hopes this will generate more discussion about making marijuana legal for good.

“It’s really just looking like it’s going to be a conversation that politicians are going to have to have on a wider scale,” she said. “It’s an issue that people are taking seriously, and that’s what’s most exciting to me.”

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