This will be my first election since moving to California and hence my first encounter with their famously long ballots because of the many propositions that appear on it. I have to say I am impressed with how they run the elections. It started with the delivery by mail of a 112-page voter information guide from the secretary of state that seemed daunting but on closer examination was clear and well organized and easy to get through. In addition to 23 pages of general information about the election and how, when, and where to vote, there are 89 pages devoted to the 12 propositions on the ballot: six pages providing a quick reference guide with the proposition issues clearly laid out, with a summary of what each ballot issue is about, what a ‘yes’ vote and a ‘no’ vote means, brief summaries of the arguments for and against, and where to go for more information; 62 pages that go more fully into each of those same propositions; and 21 pages devoted exclusively to the full text of the bond issue that underlies proposition #14 concerning stem cell research.
It was not hard for me to decide how to vote on most of the propositions because they dealt with issues that I have been following and care about. So I arrived at ‘yes’ on #15 (increasing funding for public schools), ‘yes’ on #16 (increasing diversity in public services hiring practices), ‘yes’ on #17 (restoring voting rights to people who have served their prison terms – actually I would like even the imprisoned to have the right to vote), ‘yes’ on #18 (slightly relaxing the voting age rules), ‘yes’ on #19 (that closes some property tax loopholes that benefit the wealthy), ‘no’ on #20 (that makes parole more restrictive), ‘yes’ on #21 (that allows more rent control by local authorities), ‘no’ on #22 (that seeks to allow companies like Uber to not treat everyone as employees who require benefits), ‘no’ on #23 (that imposes restrictions on dialysis centers), ‘yes’ on #24 (that seeks to expand privacy laws), and ‘yes’ on #25 (that seeks to get rid of the money bail system).
The one proposition that I am still undecided on is #14 about issuing bonds to fund stem cell research. I am in favor of such research but think it would be best done by places like the NIH that have the expertise to do it well. Of course, given the anti-zealots in the federal government who see stem cell research as something evil, getting that research done by federal agencies like the NIH will be hard. But it seems like having states do it is not the best way.
Because of the pandemic, this year they mailed out ballots to every registered voter without having to be requested and I got mine earlier this week from my county, a full month before the election. The ballot was accompanied by another booklet with a sample ballot and candidate statements for all local offices being voted on in my area.
Often seeing the ballot is the first time that you realize that there are other tickets running for the president/vice president positions other than Democrats and Republicans. For example, for the presidential race, in addition to the Joe Biden/Kamal Harris and Donald Trump/Mike Pence tickets, there is a Libertarian party ticket of Jo Jorgensen/Jeremy Cohen, a Green party ticket of Howie Hawkins/Angela Walker, a Peace and Freedom party ticket of Gloria La Riva/Sunil Freeman, and an American Independent party ticket of Roque De La Fuente Guerra/Kanye West.
The last one surprised me. I knew that Kanye West was running for president on the Birthday party ticket (no, really!) and was being heavily supported by the Republican party in the hope that he would siphon away African American votes that might otherwise go to Joe Biden but on this ballot he is listed as the vice presidential candidate. This article ‘explains’ what might be going on. Basically, I don’t care to go into it in any more detail. There is enough craziness going on in this election without West’s antics.
I am planning on filling in my ballot and dropping it off later this week in one of the official drop sites that is less than a mile from my home, well before the November 3 election day. You can also track the status of your ballot online to make sure it was received and registered. It is not only really simple and convenient, the system seems well designed to circumvent fraud and Trump’s scaremongering is just ridiculous. Fraud would have to occur on an individual basis and there is simply little benefit in anyone risking serious prison term to fraudulently change one vote here and one vote there.