What’s on the Ballot? 2016 Democratic Primary Referenda

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This election has been an endless slog, but the time to cast the first ballots has finally arrived. Early voting began Tuesday, and will continue through February 26th. Election day is March 1.

In addition to selecting which candidates will appear on the November general election ballot, the primary is also time for members of each party help shape this year’s party platform.

Both the Democrats and Republicans will have several issue proposals (Democrats call them ballot referenda, Republicans call them propositions) at the bottom of their primary ballots asking voters to weigh in on which issues should guide the 2016 party platform. People vote on whether they are for or against each of the non-binding issue proposals, lending their voices to shape the party’s values for this election year.

Issue proposals are an important look at each party’s priorities. These are the issues that will guide each party platform, and they provide insight into what voters think are important.

This year’s Democratic ballot contains six referenda. They span issues like open carry, the Voting Rights Advancement Act, and support for comprehensive immigration reform, allowing Democrats to show their support for the progressive policies that form the foundation of the Democratic Party.

The text of each ballot referendum is below:

    Referendum 1:
    Should the Texas Legislature and the United States Congress pass an economic security and prosperity plan for families that includes higher incomes by raising the state minimum wage to a livable wage, passing the Paycheck Fairness Act to ensure equal pay for equal work, guaranteeing paid family leave to care for a child or ill loved one, fully funding public neighborhood schools, and making a debt-free community college education a reality for hardworking students?
    Referendum 2:
    Should the Texas Legislature and the United States Congress pass criminal justice reform legislation that ensures equal justice throughout our society without respect to race, socioeconomic status, geographic location, or other factors unrelated to behavior, ensuring as well common sense policies to protect the rights of law enforcement officers, the community, and defendants in the criminal justice system?
    Referendum 3:
    Should the Texas Legislature and the United States Congress encourage the transition to renewable, non-polluting energy as a means to slow down climate change and its impact on the planet?
    Referendum 4:
    Should the United States Congress pass the new Voting Rights Advancement Act to protect all American voters?
    Referendum 5:
    Should the Texas Legislature allow each public institution of higher education (not only private universities) to opt out of the ability to carry guns on campus?
    Referendum 6:
    Should the United States Congress pass a just and fair comprehensive immigration reform solution that includes an earned path to citizenship for law-abiding immigrants and their children, keeps families together, protects DREAMers, and provides workforce solutions for businesses?

You can see how the propositions will look on a sample Travis County ballot here.

For more information on early voting, including where to find your polling place and what ID you will need, check out our guide here.

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About Author

Katie Singh

Katie grew up in Austin and has been involved in Texas politics since 2004. She has been a part of several campaigns, from state house races to working at President Obama's campaign headquarters in 2012. She loves public policy, public health, and tacos. Katie tweets from @kasingh19.

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