Thursday, November 03, 2005


Do you vote on initiatives in your state?


Californians do. Every voting period (which, honestly, feels like at least twice a year), all registered voters are sent a "Official Voter Information Guide", which can be as many as 200 pages long. (Actually, I suppose it could be an infinite number of pages long. This year's one is 177.)

In our handy dandy booklet we find all the initiatives we are voting for, first explained in a summary, then explaining "what your yes vote means" and "what your no vote means". Then we have quick arguments, one pro, one con. And finally, addresses to find "additional information". That's the first 5 or 10 pages, depending on how many initiatives there are. Next comes the "official title and summary" and "analysis by the legislative analyst" for each initiative, followed by an argument in favor, followed by a rebuttal to the argument in favor, followed by an argument against, which is in turn followed by a rebuttal to the argument against. I am not making this up. I told you, this year's booklet has 177 pages.


The responsible citizen will wade through all this verbage and make a decision, fill out his little practice voter card (also provided each election period), and take it with him to the polling place November 8th.

That's what I do. I ignore the gazillion political advertisements, all the crap that comes in the mail, the earnest young people who come to my door in the evening, all of that. I ignore it, and ignore who sponsors each initiative (oh yeah, you can find that in the booklet, too), and just read all the hideously boring and poorly written crap until I figure out which makes the most sense to me. Guess what? It takes a long time. At least an hour, usually more.

Didn't I elect officials to do that for me?

It's not that I necessarily mind doing it. It's kind of nice to feel like I have a voice in the process. I just know that most people are not reading through all this information. Most people--like my husband--ignore all of it and just ask someone they know--what should I vote for? Or they don't vote at all, because what a spectacular pain in the ass!

I think that sucks. It's hard enough to get people out to vote for President, much less all these ridiculous statues and initiatives. I wonder how skewed the numbers are toward the more educated, priveledged voters. We're the ones who have time to read all this stuff, after all.

That said, if you live in California, be sure to vote No on Prop 73 (Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor's Pregnancy.) It's worth it just to go to the polls for that one initiative.

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