Poll Shows Voter Opinion of Massachusetts Ballot Questions

Nov 5, 2012

Recent polling reveals some new information on how Massachusetts voters feel about some of the ballot questions to be decided on election day. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports that many are still divided on the issues…

A statewide survey recently conducted by the Polling institute at Western New England Voters reveals two things. One, a majority of voters appear to support legalizing medical marijuana, and Two, voters are at almost an even split over the so-called “Death with Dignity” question.

Tim Vercellotti, director of WNE’s Polling Institute, says that according to the polling conducted between October 26th and November 1st, a majority of those polled support a bill legalizing medical marijuana.

Advocates are still doing their work to communicate to voters about the ballot questions. The Massachusetts Prevention Alliance is advocating against the medical marijuana question, also known as Question 3. John Scheft, a Boston-based attorney who represented the MPA in front of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, says that  when voters here facts on the issue, they’ll change their minds.

Scheft said his group is concerned the measure would produce a lack of public health oversight including no license renewal laws, that the law is made to support an industry and not the patient, and that the mandated 35 marijuana dispensaries is too many.

On the other side the Committee for Compassionate Medicine has been advocating for Question #3,  has been saying that a Massachusetts law would be the safest in the country, that medical marijuana can help treat patients with debilitating disease, and says marijuana will be “strictly limited” to those with a physician’s approval. A call for comment to The Committee for Compassionate Medicine was not returned in time for broadcast.

Western New England University also polled registered and likely voters on Question #2, which would allow terminally ill patients to obtain life-ending medications, also referred to as “Death with Dignity”.

Tim Vercellotti says that Massachusetts voters are more evenly divided on the “Death with Dignity” question than medical marijuana.

Vercellotti says the new numbers are much closer than what was taken in a poll last May.

John Kelly, of group Second Thoughts is advocating against Question #2. Kelly said his group is confident that voters will choose to vote against “Death with Dignity.”

Kelly added that in his view, voting no on question two will protect the elderly from abuse from spouses, adult-children, and caregivers.

Steve Crawford, spokesman for Dignity 2012, says although the polling is close, he’s confident that voters will vote for Question #2.

Also up for vote is what’s known as the “Right to Repair” bill which  will require automobile manufacturers to provide  more diagnostic and safety information to independent repair shops and consumers. WNE did not poll on this question.