200 attend forum on Arizona's ballot propositions - East Valley Tribune: Politics

200 attend forum on Arizona's ballot propositions

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Posted: Thursday, September 23, 2010 2:00 pm | Updated: 10:56 pm, Fri Sep 24, 2010.

Nearly 200 people gathered Wednesday night at Gateway Community College’s auditorium to hear the pros and cons of each proposition on the Nov. 2 ballot.

With most of this year’s propositions meaning changes to the state Constitution, Karen Michael, an observer at the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office’s town hall event, said she’s alarmed that the Legislature is trying to pass so many amendments.

“The ballot is incredibly overloaded this year, there was barely time to hear from both sides of the propositions,” Michael said. “It’s worrisome when you really start to wonder why all these amendments are trying to be passed all at once.”

The 10 measures range from authorizing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes to terminating the Arizona Early Childhood Development and Health Board. A full list can be found at http://www.azsos.gov.

Wednesday’s town hall was the first of 25 that will take place around the state, and the only one to be televised. The goal is to educate voters on a personal level. Descriptions of the propositions are available, but attendees agreed listening to advocates and experts brings a different light to what is really at stake.

Matt Benson, spokesman for the secretary of state’s office, said he was thrilled with the turnout. 

“It’s good to see a high interest in the election season,” he said. “Voters have an invested interest in some of these ballot measures.”

Voters such as 57-year-old Godfrey Harfman came out specifically to hear what the opposing sides could say to add to the obvious debate.

“I can read, but it’s interesting to hear people telling you,” he said.

First-time voter Cayla Durham, 19, decided to attend after a recent discussion in a communication class at Gateway.

“Everyone was saying ‘Oh, we need to legalize marijuana’ and I was curious about how my state was going to do this,” Durham said.

The Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project sponsors Proposition 203, or the Medical Marijuana Act, the only one not sponsored by the Legislature.

However, Durham’s personal interest in the town hall was directed at Proposition 106, which deals with allowing Arizonans to opt out of buying health care services, and how it would affect her newborn nephew who was born with medical issues.

“I wasn’t registered to vote before coming here tonight but now I see how important it is to vote and care,” Durham said. “If it wasn’t for my nephew I wouldn’t be here and I wouldn’t of been able to hear about the other propositions that will affect me too.”

Registration closes Oct. 4 at midnight, according to the secretary of state’s office website.

The town hall will be replayed later on Cox Cable Channel 7.

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