Once Again, California OD's on Democracy

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Once Again, California OD's on Democracy

"The great thing about democracy is that it gives every voter a chance to do something stupid." — Art Spander

How many of California's voters will go to the polls today with a clear understanding of all 13 propositions that are on the November ballot? Probably not very many.

The propositions deal with a hodge-podge of issues -- cigarette taxes, housing bonds, regulation of private property, parental notification for abortion, and oil production taxes, to name a few. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

If you live in San Francisco and you show up at the polls, you will receive a ballot that asks you to vote yes or no on these 13 propositions as well as on 11 city propositions. That's a grand total of 24 issues that are left to the voters, who are usually struggling just to make sense of the candidates and what they actually stand for.

I'm not against the initiative and referendum process, but, as I've suggested before, there has to be a limit on the number of initiatives that can be placed on any one election ballot. Most of these initiatives are not easy to decipher. The more there are, the more of a pipe dream it is to expect that voters will be adequately informed to decide these issues.

It simply isn't realistic to expects millions of voters to have a reasonable understanding of this many ballot initiatives.

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