What Makes the November 2 Propositions so Difficult?
Ballot measures are always hard to read and understand, but this fall’s nine seem especially dense — separately and as a group. First of all, nine propositions on the ballot is just too many. Who has the time and energy to master such a mass of text? In Culver City, though, we’re fortunate not to have any local measures in the mix. Long Beach and Santa Monica have three apiece, giving their voters a dozen difficult decisions.
I’d like to try to put the difficulty of our ballot into some kind of perspective before launching into a more detailed nonpartisan commentary on the individual Props 19 through 27. Two factors come to mind; I’ll call them negativity and pairing.
Negativity: Three of our statewide Propositions — 23, 24, and 27 — ask voters to repeal previous legislation or ballot measures. This makes it hard to differentiate between the meaning of a ‘yes’ vote and a ‘no’ vote. By saying ‘yes’ to any one of these ballot measures, we’re saying ‘no’ to something else: environmental legislation, corporate income tax breaks, or redistricting reform. In each of these cases, we must not only analyze the propositions, but also evaluate the laws they seek to repeal.
Pairing: Props 20 and 27 relate to the same previous ballot measure (Prop 11 of 2008), while Props 25 and 26 relate to the state budget process. Both of these combos have attracted coalitions urging ‘no’ votes on one and ‘yes’ votes on the other.
Prop 27 falls into both categories. It’s negative (seeking to repeal Prop 11), and it’s paired with Prop 20, another measure on redistricting. Props 20 and 27, moreover, are a ‘poison pill’ pair. If both pass, the one with the higher number of votes will prevail.
Once you start comparing and contrasting Props 19 through 27, you find common threads all over the place. I hope to follow these threads to lead you through the nine measures in a way that will make sense to you. One of my League of Women Voters colleagues says: “You may have been confused when we started talking about the propositions, and you may still be confused when we finish — but at least you’ll be confused on a higher level!”