2022 midterm elections: Emerson College students contemplate possible outcomes of this year’s ballot


The Massachusetts State House, undergoing reconstructive changes.

By Sabrina Lam, Staff Writer

As Election Day approaches, Emerson College students evaluate each candidate’s platforms and consider what positions to take on the four ballot questions before voting this upcoming Tuesday. 

The race to fill Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s spot has been narrowed down to Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey and former Republican Massachusetts State Rep. Geoff Diehl. If elected, Healey would become Massachusetts’ first woman and openly gay governor. Trump-endorsed Diehl would be a shift away from the state’s two-decade streak of electing moderate Republicans.

Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll is running alongside Healey for lieutenant governor. If elected, the two would become the nation’s first all-female governor/lieutenant pair.

Diehl and running mate Leah Allen’s platform plan to take on a more conservative approach in comparison to Gov. Baker’s, reducing COVID-19 mandates and implementing fiscal discipline.

The candidates running for attorney general are former Boston City Council President Andrea Campbell (D) and Massachusetts Republican State Committee member Jay McMahon (R). If elected, Campbell would be the state’s first Black woman to hold this position. 

Despite the focus on diverse representation in this year’s elections, some Emerson students aren’t placeing as much emphasis on identity in the world of politics.

“Ideology and policies should be independent from people’s sexual orientation and race… it’s about qualifications,” said Margaux Jubin, a first-year writing, literature and publishing student. “I don’t think identity politics should come into [the election] as much as it has.”

First-year undeclared major Taraneh Moeini solely focuses on candidates’ platforms when voting as well.

“It’s nice to give representation to queer people,” she said in reference to Healey. “But when it comes to politics, policies are what matters.”

This year’s ballot poses four main issues for Massachusetts voters: a tax on annual income over $1 million, dental insurance spending regulations, retail alcohol license expansion, and driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. 

The constitutional amendment to tax the rich, commonly referred to as the “Millionaires’ Tax” or “Fair Share Amendment,” would increase the state’s income tax from 5% to 9% on the portion of an individual’s annual income above $1 million. Money from the tax increase would be used to fund public education and infrastructure. A vote ‘yes’ supports carrying out the tax while a vote ‘no’ opposes it.

Jubin recognizes the potential of this proposal, especially in the Boston area.

“Tax increases can be a good idea depending on how the government decides to use the money, such as making sure the T doesn’t shut down,” she said.

The second question proposes a requirement for insurers to maintain a “medical loss ratio” of 83%, meaning at least 83 cents of each dollar of an insurer’s premiums would be spent on patient care as opposed to marketing and administrative expenses. Voting ‘yes’ would support these changes while voting ‘no’ would uphold the current law. 

The third ballot question regards a current Massachusetts law that sets a maximum of alcohol licenses a single retailer or company can own. Large chains are restricted to a limited number of locations where they are able to sell liquor, beer, and wine.

The new proposal suggests expanding the cap to gradually double the number of locations a chain can sell beer and wine, eventually growing from nine to 18 by 2031. At the same time, it calls to downsize the ability to sell beer, wine, and liquor from nine to seven locations.

In addition, the proposal prohibits retailers from allowing self-checkout for alcoholic beverages, increases fines on stores that sell alcohol to minors, and allows out-of-state IDs for alcohol purchases. Like question two, voters can either choose to accept these alterations or keep the law the way it is.

A vote yes supports expanded convenience and protects against illegal sales, a vote no denies these reforms. Some Emerson students placed less importance on this proposal.

“Kids are gonna find a way to drink regardless of restrictions… [it’s] inevitable,” Moeini said, “I’d rather see a proposal that’s about a more important issue like affordable public housing.”

Question four concerns a state law established in June, which overrode Gov. Baker’s veto on the immigrant license access bill which grants any individual the ability to obtain a driver’s license, regardless of legal status.

The bill’s passing stirred controversy as opponents argued having a driver’s license is a privilege that should not extend to undocumented individuals. Its referendum came to fruition when a Republican-led campaign successfully gathered enough signatures for the proposal to re-appear on November’s ballot.

Rio Dolmetsch, a first-year visual and media arts student, takes the Democratic side of this argument. 

At 5 years old, Dolmetsch was hit by an oncoming car in an accident. That driver was an undocumented immigrant who did not have a license at the time. Because he experienced the dangers first-hand, he emphasizes the continuation of this law.

“It’s actually really great that we currently have that in Massachusetts,” he said. “I think it’s much safer to have that screening process for everyone.” 

Diehl played a major role in advancing the referendum, gathering signatures for the campaign. Likewise, McMahon also argued to repeal the law in a WBZ-TV debate against Democratic Sen. Lydia Edwards. 

Healey, on the other hand, has publicly favored the adoption of the law. Driscoll also voiced strong support for the law on WCVB-TV and expressed intent to expedite bringing it into effect if elected into the next administration.

Considering which platforms advocate for this law to remain intact, Dolmetsch makes a final voting decision.   

“If I vote this year it will definitely be for Healey and the Democratic party,” he said. 

Out-of-state Emerson College students are eligible to vote after declaring Boston as their permanent address at Boston City Hall. Polls on Nov. 8 will be open from 7 a.m to 8 p.m. Find your Election Day voting locations here.