Elections are only two days away, which means that campus is as apathetic as ever. Why should you vote? Well, there’s that whole civic duty thing. Then there’s the fact that these elections are important because they could affect the whole balance of national and state politics. Then there’s the fact that, somewhere in the United States, this crazy person, or this crazy person, or this crazy person, this crazy person, or even this crazy person could, or even very well might, be elected. And then there’s because P. Diddy tells you to.
California elections are particularly interesting because of the propositions system, which allows for voters to pass laws with a simple majority. Just as in elections past, this upcoming ballot features a wide range of interesting propositions. In the spirit of making sure voters are informed, Stanford in Government (SIG) has published a non-partisan voter guide to help California voters navigate the murky and horribly-worded propositions when they prepare to vote. Here is the information on some of the most important propositions:
Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010
Summary: Would allow people 21 years old or older to possess, cultivate, or transport marijuana for personal use. Local governments would have authority to regulate and tax commercial production and sale of marijuana to people 21 years old or older. Would prohibit people from possessing marijuana on school grounds, using it in public, smoking it while minors are present, or providing it to anyone under 21 years old. Current prohibitions against driving while impaired would be maintained.
Pro: Supporters say that Proposition 19 will save the state money currently spent in enforcing the failed laws against marijuana growth and use. They say that Proposition 19 will effectively end the violent drug market created by marijuana prohibition. Proponents argue that marijuana arrests have cost the state millions of dollars in police, prosecution, and prison costs. They argue that taxing the sale of marijuana could bring in large sums to help the state during current budget deficits.
Con: Opponents say that Proposition 19 is a flawed measure that loosens penalties for driving or working under the influence of marijuana. They believe that legalized marijuana will have public costs larger than any amount of revenue brought in by the drug. Many opponents believe that marijuana is a “gateway” drug and will lead users to more dangerous drugs like heroin or cocaine.
Also see here for a debate on Prop. 19.
Congressional district lines to be re-drawn by a committee
Summary: Proposition 20 would enhance Proposition 11, which was passed by voters in November 2008. That measure transferred authority to redraw Assembly, Senate, and Board of Equalization district boundaries from the legislature to a 14-person legislative redistricting commission. Proposition 20 would add congressional districts to the redistricting commission’s authority. Proposition 20 also defines a “community of interest” for all districts. Proposition 27 on the November ballot would reverse the effects of Proposition 11. If both of these measures are approved by voters, the proposition receiving the greater number of “yes” votes would go into effect, canceling the passage of the other measure.
Pro: Supporters say that Proposition 20 will create fair congressional districts that will hold congressional representatives more accountable to voters. They also say that Proposition 20 will ensure that redistricting in the state is done in a transparent manner which is open to the public.
Con: Opponents say that Proposition 20 will “turn the clock back” on redistricting in the state by mandating that congressional district lines are drawn according to economic status. They claim that the measure will cost the state millions, adding to the amount already approved by the legislature under the Proposition 11 process.
Suspend pollution control laws until unemployment falls below 5.5%
Summary: Would suspend the implementation of AB 32, the Global Warming Act of 2006, until California’s unemployment rate drops to 5.5% or below for four consecutive quarters. AB 32 requires that greenhouse gas emission levels in the state be cut to 1990 levels by 2020 through a comprehensive greenhouse-gas-reduction program that includes increased renewable energy and cleaner fuel requirements, and mandatory emission reporting and fee requirements for major polluters such as power plants and oil refineries. The process of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in the state is slated under AB 32 to begin in 2012.
Pro: Supporters say that Proposition 23 saves jobs, prevents energy tax increases, and helps families, while preserving California’s clean air and water laws.
Con: Opponents say that Prop. 23 threatens public health with more air pollution, increases dependence on costly oil, and kills competition and jobs from California’s emerging clean technology companies.
State budget can be passed with a simple majority vote
Summary: The Legislature’s vote requirement to send the annual budget bill to the Governor would be lowered from two-thirds to a majority of each house of the Legislature. It does, however, retain two-thirds vote requirement for taxes, initiatives, and constitutional amendments.
Pro: Supporters say that Proposition 25 would reform California’s broken state budget process. They claim it would hold legislators accountable for late budgets by stopping their pay and benefits every day the budget is late. Supporters also say Proposition 25 would end budget gridlock by allowing a majority of legislators to pass the budget. They emphasize that it would not lower the two-thirds vote required to raise taxes.
Con: Opponents say that politicians and special interests are promoting Proposition 25 to make it easier for politicians to raise taxes and restrict voters’ constitutional right to reject bad laws. Opponents claim that Proposition 25 wouldn’t punish politicians, who would just increase their lavish expense accounts.
For the full list, see the complete guide here.
Be informed and then go vote. I leave you with this: