Election Day 2021 involved more than just candidates for office in various state races. Ballot initiatives promoting the freedom of religion, public safety and the rights of the elderly were approved by voters in Texas and Minnesota.
Texas voters considered and approved eight constitutional amendments, including two related to the COVID-19 pandemic and government-declared public emergencies.
Proposition 3, aka Prop 3, protects churches and other religious organizations from closures and other attendance restrictions imposed by state government officials or agencies in response to public emergency declarations. With over a million votes counted, Prop 3 passed by a margin of 63% to 37%.
Proposition 6, aka Prop 6, allows residents of nursing homes and skilled care facilities to designate a family member or other caregiver who cannot be denied visitation even during pandemic restrictions or other public emergencies. The measure was approved by a wide margin, 88% to 12%. According to The Texas Tribune, the measure came in response to the pandemic experience of seeing elderly patients isolated from family members for months at a time.
On the subject of public safety, Minneapolis voters rejected a city charter amendment that would have dismantled its police department and instead created a “Department of Public Safety.” The initiative came in response to last year’s death of George Floyd, an African American, at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer.
City residents defeated the initiative, 54% to 46%. The Minneapolis Police Department has already seen a drastic reduction in its force, currently at 591 sworn officers, down from 853 in 2018, according to Fox News. Even residents in predominantly Black neighborhoods felt that dismantling the police department was not the answer to the problems they have experienced.
“I kind of trembled a little bit in the voting booth today because I live in one of the neighborhoods most impacted by crime and violence… and knew the correlation between the lack of policing and good policing,” Sondra Samuels, a Minneapolis resident who sued over the measure, told Fox News. “We can have reform and we can have enough police to keep our children, our elderly safe. So this was a win tonight.”
According to Ballotpedia, 24 ballot initiatives were up for votes in six states on Tuesday night.
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