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Rays of Light

Issue 219

Indypendent Staff Nov 20, 2016

“There is a crack in everything,” the late, great Leonard Cohen once wrote. “That’s how the light gets in.” In that spirit, here are some cracks in the darkness of Nov. 8th’s results.

Voters in Maine approved ranked-choice voting, meaning they will have multiple options on the ballot. If their first pick does not win, their vote automatically defaults to their second choice. The new electoral system is expected to be a boon to third parties such as the Greens, which are often accused by critics of siphoning votes from more electable candidates.

In addition to joining three other states in legalizing recreational marijuana sales, voters in California repealed the 1998 “English in Our Schools” initiative, restoring bilingual education in public classrooms. They also upheld legislation restricting the use of plastic bags, and passed a measure that instructs their representatives in Congress to back a constitutional amendment to repeal the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, which opened the door to a flood of money into politics.

Ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage passed in four states: Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and Washington. South Dakota voters vetoed a law to lower the minimum for workers under 18. Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, notorious for immigration-enforcement tactics that stretched legal bounds, lost his bid for re-election. North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory — who backed the state’s anti-trans bathroom bill this year — appears to have been defeated by 5,000 votes, although he is calling for a recount.

A number of candidates backed by Bernie Sanders’ Our Revolution won. Ilhan Omar, a refugee, became the country’s first female Somali-American lawmaker, winning a seat in Minnesota’s legislature. In Washington, Pramila Jayapal won the race to succeed longtime Rep. Jim McDermott in the 7th Congressional District, which contains most of Seattle. She is the first Indian-American woman elected to Congress.

Jayapal told supporters in her victory speech that her district could be “a light in the darkness,” adding: “If our worst fears are realized, we will be on the defense as of tomorrow. We will have to fight for social justice as never before.”

— Indypendent Staff

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