Bay Staters to vote on Iraq pullout

AMHERST, Mass. — Voters here and in 138 other cities and towns across Massachusetts will be able to express their opinions on the Iraq war directly, for the first time, at the ballot box in the upcoming November elections.

The text of a ballot initiative in these districts reads, “Shall the State Representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of a resolution calling upon the President and Congress of the United States to end the war in Iraq immediately and bring all United States military forces home from Iraq?”

Volunteers were able to collect the thousands of signatures needed to put the question on the ballot in 36 state representative districts, representing about a quarter of the state, or “139 cities and towns from the Berkshires to Cape Cod.”

“I’m grateful for the work of my neighbors to put this on the ballot,” said Sunny Miller, the daughter of a Vietnam War veteran who lives in Deerfield, Mass. “It’s about time we got to vote on this war.”

According to the Massachusetts-based United for Justice with Peace, “This initiative qualified for the ballot because of a massive volunteer effort this spring and summer by citizens from one end of the state to the other.” The coalition is made up of a number of groups and local chapters.

The ballot question, because it gives people a chance to express their feelings directly, has the potential to increase voter turnout, drawing many voters who may not have come out otherwise.

“I still have to register to vote,” said Polina, a freshman at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. “I hadn’t registered yet, but I’m going to. And I’m going to vote, because I want to end the war.”

Miller said that she had just finished painting a sign that reads “Bring them home,” and she plans to stand on a highway overpass in the weeks ahead so that she can help spread the antiwar message to passing motorists.

dmargolis@pww.org