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County voters approve non-binding ballot items

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Hampshire County voters overwhelmingly approved two non-binding ballot items Tuesday aimed at reversing the results of the Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision and shifting national budget priorities from military to domestic spending.

Though not all the county towns’ numbers were in yet, county voters approved the so-called Democracy Amendment Question, which instructs state senators to call on Congress to propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution affirming that corporations are not entitled to the same rights as people. The initial vote tally was 37,522 in favor to 6,550 opposed.

The countywide vote on a non-binding Budget for All ballot question that calls on Congress to redirect military spending to domestic needs and provide revenue to invest in jobs was 18,255 in favor to 3,926 against.

The Democracy Amendment, supported by Free Speech for People and Common Cause, was sparked by the Supreme Court’s 5-4 Citizens United decision in 2010. In addition to reversing the court’s decision that the government can’t restrict independent political expenditures by corporations, it also calls on Congress and the states to limit political contributions and spending on political campaigns.

The question was on the ballot in Amherst, Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Hadley, Hatfield, Huntington, Leverett, Northampton, Pelham, South Hadley, Shutesbury, Westhampton, Williamsburg and Whately,

The Budget for All item was a first-of-its-kind ballot question based on the idea that the federal budget is a moral document. It instructs state legislators to vote in favor of a resolution calling on Congress and the president to increase taxes for the wealthy, cut military spending, and protect safety net programs.

The measure also supports an immediate end to the war in Afghanistan, with the intention of redirecting funds spent on the war to domestic needs and federal deficit reduction.

The Budget for All question was on the ballot in dozens of area communities, including Amherst, Northampton, a portion of Granby, Hatfield, Pelham, Southampton and Westhampton.

Gazette Staff Writer Chad Cain contributed to this story.

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