I’ve been voting since 1996 and have rarely missed even the smallest of municipal votes.  It bugs me to watch my generation and the ones coming behind us so lackadaisical about their civic duty.

I’ve always had to stand there at the voting booth and deliberate before, though.  There is usually one race or one issue that leaves me standing there for seconds or minutes longer than it’d normally take to fill it out because I’m not sure how I want to vote on it.  Not this year.

I just downloaded the sample ballot for my precinct to look at and I smiled to myself realizing how easy it’s going to be to vote this year.  But there are a couple of questions on the back that friends have been asking me about so I thought I’d share how I’m voting and why:

1. The summary on question one seems benign:

Summary:  Adopts Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy Amendment which creates a dedicated trust fund for the purposes of protecting and enhancing water quality and natural areas in the State including parks, trails, and fish andwildlife habitat, and conserving agricultural soils in this State.

The problem is in the details.  If you read the fine print which should be available in your ballot booth, it says:

“the fund shall be annually credited with an amount equal to the amount generated by a sales tax rate of three-eighths of one percent as may be imposed upon the retail sales price of tangible personal property and the furnishing of enumerated services sold in this State.”

So it’s a tax increase that ties the hands of the Legislature.  Our system of government works best when we don’t artificially appropriate money through the Constitution and let the Legislature do its job: appropriate funds.  If this fund proves to be ineffective, abused, or if the funds absolutely need to be used elsewhere, are we going to have another lengthy constitutional amendment process?  The more one thinks about it, the dumber the whole idea becomes.   Most of my most conservative friends would call me a moderate on environmental issues but this is a very easy NO vote for me.

2.  The following question is on the back of your ballot: “Shall there be a convention to revise the constitution, and propose amendment or amendments to same?”

My vote will be a resounding YES!  The Legislature has failed to act, I can’t see Republicans (sadly, at this point anyway) having the spinal fortitude to get two Assemblies to vote for a marriage amendment should they win control, and this is a Constitutional remedy we should jump on.

The opposition from the Right and the Left will point out that all kinds of bad things can happen in a convention and then the people might vote on them.  The simple truth is this:  All proposed amendments would be voted on individually.  With that in mind, the opposition always wants the people to vote when the polling shows that the people agree with them and avoid popular votes when the polling tells them they might lose.  Anyone who opposes the Constitutional Convention is either disingenuous, saying that calling a convention is “playing fast and loose with the Constitution” (It’s a CONSTITUTIONAL REMEDY, numbskull!) or they use fear to scare people into making a “risky” convention take place.  They have succumbed to elitism.  We either trust the people with the vote or we don’t.

3. The final question I get a lot on the ballot is the judge retention question.  Local lawyers are used to and enjoy working with most of the Polk County judges.  I get that.  You listen to them and they’ll say, more often then not, “vote how you want on the Supreme Court, but it’d be a shame to lose the Polk County Judges.”  I’ve heard this from three lawyers I highly respect.

The problem is that Judge Hanson, who ruled on the gay marriage issue to begin with, is up.  I can’t vote YES for this guy.  And, frankly, if there was ever a time to send a message to the Judiciary as a whole that we are watching, we are unsatisfied with the legal class, and we need more information about judges before voting YES, now is the time.  I’ll be voting NO on every judge unless I hear something stellar from or about one of them between now and Tuesday.

If you are an Iowan or have something interesting on your ballot in your state, how are you going to vote?

9 comments
  1. Let the courts do their job. The constitutes requires that the judiciary and legislative be 2 independent and equal branches of government. Keep politics out of the courtroom.

    1. Great tell the judiciary that it isn’t their job to legislate… I’m glad that you recognize the difference. As far as the courts being political – they already are… the nomination process is as partisan as you can get and it lacks transperancy. Stop being so naïve.

  2. If the retetion of the these judges were soley basised upon their decision dealing with Article 1, Section 6 of the Iowa Constitution which basically says that all general laws will be enforced for all reguardless of class, etc. With that being the case, the judges of the Iowa Supreme Court did their job in not banning same sex marriages.

    Now by the voters of this great state let others from outside of Iowa dictate how our courts should, in their opinion, hand down decisions has lead to the gross neglect of politics into our judiciary system here in Iowa. We have been respected by other states across this great nation we call America, by the actions by the few from outside of Iowa placing unfounded fear and misrepresentation of these 3 judges has caused them to not be retained. Since these groups now feel that they can impose their beliefs on others, I can see them coming back on the next judge retention votes of those remaining to get them ousted as well. This is not what I would call the will of the people or repect for the interpretation of the law, but as political game playing from extremists.

    2 of the 3 judges that weren’t retained were appointed by Brandstad and are concidered to be conservatives. With that fact being in place, one can think that the unanimous decision that was handed down was based upon the Iowa constitution and not by political means. Just as how it should be, keep the politics out of the judiciary system.

    Be on the watch in the future, not just here in Iowa, but all over the nation when these same very groups will do their best to put fear in others that is unfounded, just in order to get what they want, not what an impartial judicial system is supposed to be about. Keep your eyes open Iowa as to who is trying to have influence over us as well as everyone all over the United States.

  3. If the retetion of the these judges were soley basised upon their decision dealing with Article 1, Section 6 of the Iowa Constitution which basically says that all general laws will be enforced for all reguardless of class, etc. With that being the case, the judges of the Iowa Supreme Court did their job in not banning same sex marriages.

    Now by the voters of this great state let others from outside of Iowa dictate how our courts should, in their opinion, hand down decisions has lead to the gross neglect of politics into our judiciary system here in Iowa. We have been respected by other states across this great nation we call America, by the actions by the few from outside of Iowa placing unfounded fear and misrepresentation of these 3 judges has caused them to not be retained. Since these groups now feel that they can impose their beliefs on others, I can see them coming back on the next judge retention votes of those remaining to get them ousted as well. This is not what I would call the will of the people or repect for the interpretation of the law, but as political game playing from extremists.

    2 of the 3 judges that weren’t retained were appointed by Brandstad and are concidered to be conservatives. With that fact being in place, one can think that the unanimous decision that was handed down was based upon the Iowa constitution and not by political means. Just as how it should be, keep the politics out of the judiciary system.

    Be on the watch in the future, not just here in Iowa, but all over the nation when these same very groups will do their best to put fear in others that is unfounded, just in order to get what they want, not what an impartial judicial system is supposed to be about. Keep your eyes open Iowa as to who is trying to have influence over us as well as everyone all over the United States.

    1. “They’re considered to be conservatives”? What universe are you living in? The people of Iowa spoke and this wasn’t just a referendum on marriage, but against judicial oligarchy that thinks it is unaccountable. News flash – our judicial nomination system is already partisan with the Iowa Bar Association controlling the process. This retention vote is in our Constitution so what, we’re never to use it? Since the Legislature didn’t do its job we did ours. Now we need to work on reforming how judges are selected I don’t want direct elections, but it is nonsense to say our current system isn’t partisan – it’s just partisan behind closed doors.

      1. If you take the time to research the votes of the justices from the Brandstad era, you will find more often than not that yes, they are conservative. I am not saying that is good or bad, after all it is called a personal view point, as well as interpretation of the law. What I am saying that according to Article 1, Section 6 of the Iowa Constitution EVERYONE has general rights reguardless of class, stature, etc. By the ruling of the justices in itself the justices were correct in not upholding a ban. Just because one likes or dislikes the ruling handed down shouldn’t be taken that the justices have made law(see article 1, section 6). Hearing how you are talking, I am willing to bet that if a same ruling was made on a different issue, you wouldn’t even bat an eye at it. Putting aside the issue that was at hand dealing with the ruling, the Iowa Constitution does support equal rights for ALL people and that was the basis of the ruling, NOT the issue at hand with same sex marriages.

        Let me ask you a question. Why is it these groups that barged into our state have done what ever possbile to corrupt and politisize our judicial system instead of taking their quarrels with the ruling to a Federal level, even to the hight court in the land, the US Supreme Court? Why? Because these very same groups look to bully and use unjustified fear instead of facts. If the facts showed that the ruling was wrong, then the Federal court system would have stricken down the Iowa Supreme court’s ruling. Prove me wrong by having the Federal court system strike the ruling and I will gladly appologize to any and all very humbly. Till then, I will see the handed down ruling as an interpretation of the Iowa Constitution made by both ends of the spectrum in the Iowa Judiciary System without bias toward anyone, just as how the courts should be.

  4. If the retetion of the these judges were soley basised upon their decision dealing with Article 1, Section 6 of the Iowa Constitution which basically says that all general laws will be enforced for all reguardless of class, etc. With that being the case, the judges of the Iowa Supreme Court did their job in not banning same sex marriages.

    Now by the voters of this great state let others from outside of Iowa dictate how our courts should, in their opinion, hand down decisions has lead to the gross neglect of politics into our judiciary system here in Iowa. We have been respected by other states across this great nation we call America, by the actions by the few from outside of Iowa placing unfounded fear and misrepresentation of these 3 judges has caused them to not be retained. Since these groups now feel that they can impose their beliefs on others, I can see them coming back on the next judge retention votes of those remaining to get them ousted as well. This is not what I would call the will of the people or repect for the interpretation of the law, but as political game playing from extremists.

    2 of the 3 judges that weren’t retained were appointed by Brandstad and are concidered to be conservatives. With that fact being in place, one can think that the unanimous decision that was handed down was based upon the Iowa constitution and not by political means. Just as how it should be, keep the politics out of the judiciary system.

    Be on the watch in the future, not just here in Iowa, but all over the nation when these same very groups will do their best to put fear in others that is unfounded, just in order to get what they want, not what an impartial judicial system is supposed to be about. Keep your eyes open Iowa as to who is trying to have influence over us as well as everyone all over the United States.

  5. If the retetion of the these judges were soley basised upon their decision dealing with Article 1, Section 6 of the Iowa Constitution which basically says that all general laws will be enforced for all reguardless of class, etc. With that being the case, the judges of the Iowa Supreme Court did their job in not banning same sex marriages.

    Now by the voters of this great state let others from outside of Iowa dictate how our courts should, in their opinion, hand down decisions has lead to the gross neglect of politics into our judiciary system here in Iowa. We have been respected by other states across this great nation we call America, by the actions by the few from outside of Iowa placing unfounded fear and misrepresentation of these 3 judges has caused them to not be retained. Since these groups now feel that they can impose their beliefs on others, I can see them coming back on the next judge retention votes of those remaining to get them ousted as well. This is not what I would call the will of the people or repect for the interpretation of the law, but as political game playing from extremists.

    2 of the 3 judges that weren’t retained were appointed by Brandstad and are concidered to be conservatives. With that fact being in place, one can think that the unanimous decision that was handed down was based upon the Iowa constitution and not by political means. Just as how it should be, keep the politics out of the judiciary system.

    Be on the watch in the future, not just here in Iowa, but all over the nation when these same very groups will do their best to put fear in others that is unfounded, just in order to get what they want, not what an impartial judicial system is supposed to be about. Keep your eyes open Iowa as to who is trying to have influence over us as well as everyone all over the United States.

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