On Government

Sometimes it can be a bummer to not feel like your vote counts (see: presidential races when living in either Texas or California). I appreciate the lack of vitriolic political ads and the extreme pandering, but it is a little appalling just how important battleground counties in battleground states can become. Add into that the electoral college and forget about it!

To help abate the sense of political uselessness, Eric and I spent a decent portion of our afternoon reading through the 11 state propositions that will be voted on in the upcoming election. KQED has posted a pretty decent bite-sized summary of each proposition, including information about its main supporters and opponents, the effects of the prop as compared to the status quo, and the financial impact. We also used their more in-depth Voter Information Guide to get a fuller picture of what a yes or no vote means. Then we discussed the issues, considered the pros and cons, and decided if the benefits outweighed the cost (or vice versa).

It was quite enjoyable and made for good conversation (though probably less enjoyable for the people sitting next to us at lunch). Some of the propositions are pretty silly, like Prop. 40, which even its original supporters have deserted. They went to court and it was ruled that their goal of redistricting wouldn’t go into effect before the presidential elections, so naturally it wasn’t worth their effort to see it through; let’s all take a moment for a collective giant eye roll.

Then there’s Prop 30 and Prop 38, 2 battling budget remedies to help keep education financed and chugging along. Both bills offer some good things and some bad; strangely, if BOTH are approved, the one with more ‘YES’ votes overrides the other, allowing for simultaneous court battles, tax increases, AND a massive budget shortage. Unfortunately the state budget was written with the assumption that Prop 30 would pass; if not, trigger cuts of 6 billion go into immediate effect (similar to sequestration at the federal level). Once you factor in Prop 38, which generates more money than Prop 30 and offers a clearer path toward said money being funneled directly into schools (but is less than ideal in how it generates that money), things get very hairy. It’s placed public schools into the odd position of supporting both measures in the hopes that at least one will pass (and they won’t split the vote) to keep them funded.

So now we have a little cheat sheet written up with each prop, a summary, and our votes. I’m sure our votes are still neither here nor there in the big picture (unfortunately in politics today money goes a lot further than nothing cast on a ballot), but it is nice to feel slightly more engaged and ready for November 6th!

Also, should you need a convenient link to register to vote, here’s one. But hurry; Texas’ deadline is in 2 days (10/9) and California’s is the 22nd of October.