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.
Speaking of revolutions, well that's a bit of hyperbole, but there is a big government change being considered right now, as we speak, in BC. And by this I mean the referendum on proportional representation. The referendum asks should we continue to elect MLAs1 using first-past-the-post (FPTP) or change to one of three proportional systems? I say sure. The only challenge to me is ranking the three options.
Option 1: Mixed member proportional (MMP) where each voter is represented by two MLAs. One is selected by FPTP, the second is based on party popularity at the whole province level.
Option 2: Rural urban proportional (RUP) combines MMP in rural areas and single transferable vote in urban areas.
Option 3: Dual member proportional (DMP) where most electoral districts are combined with a neighbouring district and represented by two MLAs. The largest rural districts will continue with one MLA elected by FPTP.
I confess I wonder whether I'm capable of an educated opinion on the proportional systems, perhaps the ballot should have stopped at the first question? But I'm going to come up with a ranking and along the way I'll expand my mind a bit as I study the proposals, and then I'll drive it over to the elections office. Having Canada Post on strike is awkward in the midst of a vote-by-mail election.
I'm listening to Balvin and William's Mi Gente which I also heard at the Revolution Day parade in San Miguel.
1Members of the Legislative Assembly