On top of this confounding, bizarre national election season, Californians have a deep, somewhat confusing pool of state and local ballot measures on which to vote this year. We reached out to friends for a little guidance through the murky flood of information, and they answered. Damian Carroll is 1st Vice Chair of the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley and a self-described a progressive activist and proposition nerd who helps us all keep a cool head as election day approaches with his proposition haikus, yoga poses, and zen mentality, to which we lent a little graphic rendering.
Is that 224-page voter guide sitting in your mail pile stressing you out? We all want to do our civic duty, but researching and deciding how to vote on this year’s 17 state propositions (and added local ballot measures!) is making us clench up in anticipation.
It doesn’t have to be so. Here are some easy resources and practices you can use to get up-to-speed on the state props without raising your blood pressure.
HAIKU the PROPS
Start by getting acquainted with each of the seventeen propositions, summarized below in just seventeen syllables.
YOGA the PROPS
Got the basics? Great! Now use these classic yoga poses to quickly get up to speed on how to vote, without losing your chi.
Downward Facing Dog: Stretch out in front of ballotpedia.org and look down, down, down, at the bottom of each proposition page, at the list of supporters and opponents. As you open up your hips and ribs you’ll also open your eyes to how leaders and organizations you trust are voting on the issues.
Upward Facing Dog: Gracefully curve your torso upward as you glance at the top of the ballot descriptions for short summaries of what a “yes” or “no” vote means. Some propositions are written confusingly, where a “yes” can mean “no” or vice versa. Particularly on referendums that seek to overturn existing legislation (like this year’s Prop 67), make sure your vote will accomplish what you think it will.
Warrior Pose: Don’t be a pushover! Many propositions are placed on the ballot by special interest groups who want to sidestep the state legislature. If you’re not convinced this issue needs to be addressed through direct democracy, it’s better to stand your ground, vote “no,” and let our elected representatives do their jobs.
Mountain Pose: Stand tall, breathe easy, and assess the landscape of newspaper editorials around you, from the San Francisco Chronicle to the San Diego Union Tribune. Editorials can often provide crucial context, insider information and background that doesn’t make it into the ballot guide.
Bridge Pose: As your shoulders and feet support your torso, consider what funding sources are supporting each proposition. For example, Prop 65 is largely supported by the plastic bag industry, while the prison guard union is funding Prop 66. Ballotpedia lists the industries and organizations spending their money to influence your vote.
ZEN the PROPS
After you’ve done your research, fix a cup of hot tea, find a comfortable chair, and mark up your sample ballot. You can relax in the knowledge that you don’t have to know every last detail to be a responsible voter. These issues are complicated, and the onus is on backers of each proposition to convince you their approach is the best one. There’s no penalty for voting no, or even leaving an issue blank if you’re unconvinced. Don’t let the complexity of the propositions intimidate you from adding your voice to our democracy. Bubble in your ballot, mail it in (or make a plan to cast it on Election Day), then go get a foot massage. You’ve earned it.