Civic Duty  2 October 2018  Canada politics  US Politics 
California ballot, back and front      
California ballot, back and front      
California ballot, back and front      

The rainforesty weather has returned to this edge of the island and I'm happy for the trees, some of whom look pretty stressed post summer. For me it's time to cut back the dying vegetables, to swap the summer tires for winters, and to perform my civic duty of voting.

I've two ballots before me. The California 60-days-to-get-it-back-to-Santa Cruz one and the BC should-we-change-the-government (a.k.a. proportional representation) one.

I'm tackling the simpler first, which surprisingly is California, surprising as it's its usual long length, 21 races and 14 measures, crammed onto two pages for which we can credit a very tiny font.

The ballot may look intimidating but I've a well-honed divide and conquer strategy, something I've perhaps discussed in a prior post. First, the partisan races. I look for the 'D' and Bob's your uncle I'm finished with these. (While I've still got this idea in my head that voting a straight ticket is intellectually lazy, I just can't vote for an R any more.) Oops, one has two D's; I think someone needs to be thinking about what she'll do in retirement. (Yeah, she'll get re-elected, but I can dream.)

Next, the non-partisan races. These I typically skip, though I may vote for a fellow who wrote me a very promising email yesterday.

And then, finally, the infamous California measures. Non-Californians may not get this: you can't walk into the polling booth on election day and plan on reading the measures and making a decision. You have to prepare your answers ahead of time, which the first time feels like cheating, like you wrote the test answers on the inside of your wrist in ink, but it's not anything like that, it's what you are expected to do. I mean, you'd be hard pressed to work your way through the ballot and accompanying voter's guide, intelligently learning about and voting on all these measures in real time in the voting booth. First, the font is tiny, as mentioned earlier, but more importantly you can't summarize a billion-dollar question, and most of them are billion-dollar questions, in one short sentence. Unless you are Proust. No, for this you need to read the voter guides.

Time passes ...

Whew, I've completed my first pass, I've studied the voter guides' pros and cons, I've sort of looked at the numbers (million, billion, it's so much I can't imagine), I've considered who is for and who is against (Howard Jarvis bad; Sierra Club good), and I've even researched a bit of the ad spending. My ballot's covered in pink marker and later I'll print and mark a fresh one, prep the envelope, and get it to Canada Post to begin the journey south.

As to BC, I think I'll leave this ballot for another day but I'll share its two questions: the first question asks if we should keep the current first past the post voting system or move to a system of proportional representation. The second question asks voters to rank three proportional systems: dual-member proportional, mixed-member proportional, and rural-urban proportional. Hmm. I've some studying and thinking and discussing-with-friends to do.