Year after year, I am amazed at the things that get put on the ballot for people to vote on. Most people have no idea what the hell the propositions on the ballot mean, yet we still vote for/against them. The system is clearly dysfunctional and the first step to solving this is education.
Some local friends from the California Voter Foundation have composed an educational, non-partisan, and catchy little ditty to get you on the trolley to understanding the 2010 ballot. Please feel free to ask questions and/or discuss particular propositions (NO talk of candidates, propositions ONLY) as long as you keep it directed towards educational discourse and don’t try to lobby our readers. I’ll do my best to answer any questions in an educational, non-partisan manner. Trust me, I’m a professional.
7 thoughts on “I’ve got a proposition for you.”
That song is clearly biased. 😉
Hello? is this thing on? *tap tap*
But seriously though, what can be done to get us sane ballots? Will it take the ultimate irony of a ballot proposition? And how would you approach it?
What really solves problems is awareness. I propose a “Proposition Awareness March,” complete with wristbands and balloons.
Glad you asked, Coolio. There are several changes that have recommended, some of which are good ideas, some of which are not.
1) Increase the number of signatures needed to place an item on the ballot.
* Will likely decrease the number of propositions, but will make propositions less accessible to anyone but the super rich.
2) Increase the fee required to file a proposition
* Considering the money needed to get the votes, not going to impact much.
3) Outlaw paying people to collect signatures
* Will be tough to get this one through the courts, but may have a serious impact on the proposition industry and will return it to more of a grassroots effort.
4) Allow courts to rule on propositions earlier
* This one is tricky, but what if the courts could rule that a proposition is unconstitutional before we bother to collect signatures and vote?
5) Require propositions to pass through the Legislature for “cleaning”
* Another tricky one, but if a proposition is passed, make the policy committees for the Assembly and/or Senate weigh in on making whatever law is passed is feasible, fair, etc
6) Don’t vote on laws, vote on ideas!
* This might be a winner and is already done in other states. Instead of voting on complicated propositions that often have loopholes, unintended consequences and legal mumbo jumbo that is indecipherable to the average Joe and Josephine, have people vote on one or two sentence ideas and then require the Legislature to pass a law in the spirit of the proposed idea.
For example, Prop 21. Instead of the proposed license fee, which pisses off all sorts of people because of the details, we could be voting on the idea that “California’s State Parks should get enough money to remain operational” and let the Legislature hammer out the details. Of course, this idea is dependent upon the Legislature not being a dysfunctional body that is unable to pass a budget, possibly because of an unreasonable requirement that a super-majority be necessary to do so…. but the idea has merit. It also removes the mentality around propositions where we don’t see the forest for the trees. Let the people get behind big ideas and then let the professionals work out the fine print.
I LOVE idea #6. When I heard the other day about the proposition to suspend the greenhouse gas laws until the unemployment rate is under 6% for 4 years, or whatever it is, it made me want to put a gun to my head.
I would couple that with reducing the 2/3 majority tax thing, as I have argued before. If they start passing lots of taxes, let the voters speak to that in the ballot.
If we went down that road we could call them Questions, right? I always love it when you hear about Questions in other states. It sounds so old school democratic.
But my question is how do we change things in order to make that happen?
Constitutional convention, baby. There has been grumbling about it for years as the only way to really try to fix California. That’s a whole different can of worms.
Either that, or a ballot proposition to amend the Constitution.
I think those are the only two ways.