The future of our country is literally in your hands, and thanks to the upcoming midterm elections, 2018 has the potential to be a year for major political change. It’s only January, but races for Senate and House seats are already heating up around the country, as Democratic lawmakers battle to wrest the government out of GOP control. But during this time, it’s important to remember that midterm elections are about more than simply electing the next wave of lawmakers—each state will also have multiple ballot measures that give citizens the power to shape policy that affects their daily lives, ranging from abortion access to where you can go to the bathroom
No matter what state you reside in, there will be essential issues at stake this year, and it’s never been more important to stay informed and vote for the causes in which you believe.
That’s why VICE Impact has rounded up a list of some of the most significant measures that will appear on state ballots this year, and outlined how you can make a difference. Voting on the majority of these laws won’t take place until November, but the fight for justice begins today.
ALABAMA STATE ABORTION POLICY AMENDMENT
Alabama Republicans have placed an amendment on the 2018 ballot which feels like something out of The Handmaid’s Tale, yet is depressingly real.
This November, Alabama voters will decide whether or not to include protections of “the rights of the unborn” in their state constitution. The measure would rewrite the state’s constitution, and effectively eliminate the right for a woman to obtain an abortion in Alabama.
The good news is that even if the measure passes, our federal constitution ensures that women will still be able to obtain an abortion in Alabama, thanks to Roe V. Wade. But if Roe V. Wade is ever overturned—a frightening possibility, thanks to Trump’s promises of appointing anti-abortion justices to the Supreme Court—this new law would immediately prevent women across the state from obtaining an abortion.
If you’re an Alabama resident, and you wish to fight this measure, make sure to vote “no” this November. If you don’t live in the state, but still want to help, consider supporting pro-choice organization NARAL, and their efforts to battle this disturbing amendment.
ARKANSAS VOTER ID AMENDMENT
Voting rights are under siege in Arkansas this year, and voting rights groups are already laying groundwork for a fight against the Arkansas Voter ID Amendment, included on the state’s ballot this year.
The amendment would add voting qualifications to the state’s constitution, and require voters to show picture ID before voting. Voter ID laws like this are notorious attempts to suppress vulnerable segments of society, by targeting groups who often lack state-issued identification, including the elderly, the disabled, low-income individuals, and minority voters.
Arkansas voters opposed to the amendment should vote “no,” this November. For out-of-state Americans looking to join the fight, the ACLU of Arkansas is a great place to start.
MASSACHUSETTS TRANSGENDER ANTI-DISCRIMINATION VETO REFERENDUM
In a liberal-leaning place like Massachusetts, it may be tempting to assume that LGBTQ rights will always be safely protected by state laws. But this fall, transgender rights will be under attack in the New England state. A measure entitled The Massachusetts Transgender Anti-Discrimination Veto Referendum will be on the state’s 2018 ballot, and the rights of transgender individuals across the state will be at stake.
The measure is lead by opponents to Senate Bill 2407, a law supporting transgender equality that passed Massachusetts State Legislature in July 2016. A vote for “yes” is a vote to uphold this legislation, ensuring continued protections for transgender individuals across the state. But a vote for “no,” is a vote to repeal this important law, making it legal to discriminate against transgender individuals in public places including hotels, restaurants and stores.
To join the effort, head to Freedom Massachusetts, the organization leading the fight against transgender discrimination in the state.
NEVADA SALES TAX EXEMPTION FOR FEMININE HYGIENE PRODUCTS MEASURE
A group of pioneering women from the Nevada state legislature have introduced an important, feminist measure to the 2018 ballot. The Nevada Sales Tax Exemption for Feminine Hygiene Products Measure is an important amendment that, if passed, would exempt feminine hygiene products like tampons and sanitary napkins from state and local sales taxes.
Women’s rights groups have hailed the bill as a measure that will endt the unfair taxation of essential products that women need. The state doesn’t tax most groceries or prescription drugs, because the government views them as necessities, so why should Nevada tax women for tampons—an equally necessary product?
Nevada citizens who support this measure, should be sure to vote “yes” on the bill this November. For more information, and ways to support the amendment, you can contact the office of Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui, one of the lawmakers leading the fight to end the unfair taxation of these products.
FLORIDA AMENDMENT 4, VOTING RESTORATION FOR FELONS INITIATIVE
Florida is one of only three states that unfairly strip former felons of all civil rights —including their right to vote—even after their sentences have been served. But fortunately, that could all change this fall. In November, Floridians will see the Voting Restoration Amendment appear on their ballots, thanks to over 800,000 concerned citizens who signed a petition in support of the proposed constitutional amendment.
If passed, the initiative will restore voting rights to over one million former felons who were convicted of non-violent crimes, and have completed their prison sentences, parole and probation. Important to note, is the fact that the amendment will not restore voting rights to convicted murderers or those guilty of felonious sexual offenses. If passed, the initiative will be a major victory for former felons unfairly disenfranchised by current voting laws.
Concerned voters should vote “yes” to support this important amendment. Citizens looking to get involved with this crucial issue can check out the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, the organization leading the fight for voting rights in Florida.
This is a partial list of 2018 ballot measures. To stay informed about the growing list of ballot measures this year, and the issues at stake in your state, visit Ballotpedia for more information.