Election after election, Alabama voters are faced with long lists of amendments, usually with very little information provided about what they really mean. This election is no different, perhaps worse than most. Our knowledge is sometimes imperfect and often incomplete, yet a decision must be made. Here is how I've decided to vote this time around:
YES on Amendment 1 - Extends Forever Wild funding. This is a no-brainer, supported by the National Rifle Association and the Sierra Club, plus almost everyone in between.
YES on Amendment 2 - This allows the state to issue new bonds for industrial development as old ones are paid off, with a cap on total indebtedness. This is Alabama so there's no absolute guarantee the money will be spent wisely or well, but this sort of investment brought Mercedes, Hyundai, Toyota, Thyssen-Krupp, etc. jobs to Alabama.
YES on Amendment 3 - This is a local amendment affecting the community of Stockton in Baldwin County. It would prevent forcible annexation of Stockton into a nearby city. Residents could still choose annexation, which sounds like a reasonable situation.
NO on Amendment 4 - This would remove segregationist language from the Alabama Constitution. Unfortunately, it also seems to remove the part obliging the state of Alabama to provide public education. Constitutional reform supporters say we should approve this one first and they'll fix the education part next year. I say send us an amendment that fixes both at once if you want my vote. With public education at stake, "Just trust us" is not good enough.
YES on Amendment 5 - This is another local amendment transferring the Prichard Water and Sewer to Mobile. The goal seems to be to reduce water rates, which are currently very high for Prichard residents. The rest of us shouldn't have to vote on these local issues, but because of the outdated Alabama constitution, we do. In any event, this one is written so that if it doesn't pass in Prichard, it won't go into effect no matter how the rest of the state votes. Seems like a YES vote from the rest of us basically lets folks in Prichard decide what they want to do.
NO on Amendment 6 - This is an attempt to end run around the Affordable Care Act. Waste of time, waste of effort, waste of money.
NO on Amendment 7 - This is a cleverly disguised attempt to make it even harder for workers to organize in Alabama. Definitely unfriendly to working families.
YES on Amendment 8 - This sets pay for legislators at the median household income in the state and modernizes the reimbursement rate for their expenses during the legislative session. It isn't perfect, but I think it's a step in the right direction -- at least it will stop the practice of paying travel and lodging for legislators who live in or near Montgomery.
YES on Amendment 9 - This is part of the Alabama Constitutional Revision Commission's effort and rewrites section XII of the constitution which deals with corporations, railroads and canals. I have reservations about this one, but in this instance I will practice what I have preached and not allow the perfect to become the enemy of the somewhat improved. Anyway, I suspect the corporatists on our Supreme Court will do whatever they like whether this one passes or not, so we might as well get a little reform where we can.
YES on Amendment 10 - The last of the constitutional reform amendments. This one deals with section XIII on banks and banking. Among other things, it removes references to the gold standard. No doubt the Tea Party opposes it for just that reason.
YES on Amendment 11 - Another local issue, this time in Limestone County. Clarifies police jurisdictions extending into the county from municipalities located wholly outside the county. Again, imperfect knowledge, but it seems reasonable.
Many people do not vote on local amendments unless they live in the affected area. I do. They're on the ballot, plenty of people around the state are going to vote on them whether they live there or not and I figure my judgment is at least as good as average. So, if I can make sense of it at all, I register an opinion, yea or nay.
AlabamaVotes.gov has a pdf available of the proposed amendments as they appear on the ballot. It is embedded below the fold, for those who want to read the amendments ahead of time. Plus, there are links to the legislative act that set up each amendment -- that is where you will find the real details, if you're interested. Notice that Amendment 11 appears first, then 1 through 10. It's the Alabama SoS, after all.