The perils of voting in California

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By kristin_a via Flickr

This November election, California voters going to the polls will again confront a ballot stuffed full of proposition asking them to help decide a bewildering array of big issues. Should we increase taxes on the state’s wealthiest to help fund public education? Is it time to abolish the death penalty? Should we label the genetically modified food we buy in our markets? And these are only some of the issues voters will decide in a few weeks. Some believe California’s initiative system has gotten too bloated and complex, with voters simply not understanding the long-term consequences of the propositions they’ve passed. One of the people who holds this view is California political writer Joe Mathews, who’s written extensively on California’s proposition system.

“We tell ourselves that we vote on these propositions because the legislature won’t act,” Matthews said, “But most of the things on the ballot would pass the legislature if we had a normal system of government in California.” He said citizens aren’t supposed to vote their fears, but that come “ballot initiative time, voters should go in paralyzed with fear that they might do something wrong. Once we do something by ballot initiative we can’t undo it, so when you go into the polls imagine your grave and think to yourself, ‘am I so sure of what I’m about to do that I’d be very comfortable with it being the law in place when I am dead? Because there’s a good chance it will be in place when I’m dead.'”

Listen to our full conversation below: