I Have Questions — Literally: Ballot Questions for the Philly Voter

There are a lot of questions that people have during the election season. “Who am I going to vote for?” “Am I going to vote?” “When will I stop receiving ‘have you voted’ texts?” And these are all critical questions that you should be answering. Still, other questions need answering too–and they’re on your ballot.

Ballot questions (or measures) are questions on the ballot that citizens answer regarding a particular issue and proposed legislation. Ballot questions appear on both local and state polls. 

Many people don’t speak about ballot questions, which can be problematic because they usually have items on there that could significantly impact citizens. And while these questions only require a “yes” or “no,” the language is sometimes vague and can prove to be a challenge if you have no prior knowledge of the topic of the question. So for me, folks must receive this information in hopes that they can enter the voting booth with as much voter confidence as possible. The rest of this article will list all four questions on Philly’s ballot next month and inform readers of what a “yes” or “no” response to those questions will mean. 

(Note: The first three measures are in response to the death of George Floyd and the protests in acknowledgment.)

Question 1

Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to call on the Police Department to eliminate the practice of unconstitutional stop and frisk, consistent with judicial precedent, meaning an officer must have reasonable suspicion that a person is engaged in criminal activity in order to stop that person, and, therefore, an officer cannot stop someone unlawfully because of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religious affiliation or expression, or other protected characteristic?

  • A “yes” to this question supports changes to Philadelphia City Charter to end unconstitutional stop and frisk practices.
  • A “no” to this question opposes changes to Philadelphia City Charter to end unconstitutional stop and frisk practices.

Question 2

Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to create the Office of the Victim Advocate to advocate for crime victims and to work with victim-services providers to coordinate, plan, train, educate, and investigate issues relating to crime victims?

  • A “yes” to this question supports the creation of an Office of the Victim Advocate.
  • A “no” to the question opposes the creation of an Office of the Victim Advocate.

Question 3

Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to provide for the creation of a Citizens Police Oversight Commission, and to authorize City Council to determine the composition, powers and duties of the Commission?

  • A “yes” to this answer would support creating the CPOC, which would create help holding the police accountable for their actions. 
  • A “no” to this answer would oppose creating the CPOC, which would create help holding the police accountable for their actions. 

Question 4

Should the City of Philadelphia borrow ONE HUNDRED THIRTY-FOUR MILLION DOLLARS ($134,000,000.00) to be spent for and toward capital purposes as follows: Transit; Streets and Sanitation; Municipal Buildings; Parks, Recreation and Museums; and Economic and Community Development?

(Get a further breakdown of the $134 million here.)

  • A “yes” to this question supports borrowing money to improve transit, municipal buildings, community development, and more.
  • A “no” to this question opposes borrowing money to improve transit, municipal buildings, community development, and more.

Please remember that this is not a guide or recommendation. This article is solely to inform readers from a non-partisan perspective. The goal is not to sway people how to vote (or even whether or not to vote), but rather to help instill knowledge in voters so that they’ll have the confidence to make their own decision.  

With that said, I hope this tool proves to be useful for those who find themselves at the polls on November 3. For those who don’t, that’s okay too. For those looking to learn more about ballot questions or other general ballot information, visit Ballotpedia.

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