If it takes an Excel sheet to keep track of how to vote on which proposition, we have a major problem. Not because we necessarily are too lazy to think about what’s going on, but because of two other intertwined problems. The first is that there aren’t too many people out there that are going to take the time to fully understand the implications of each proposition, and that creates the second problem: the preposterous marketing of these propositions. Forget the TV ads, the California General Election Official Voter Information Guide itself is irritating with arguments in all-uppercase letters (flip to page 40 to get a glimpse).

This baby is screaming. This is what we hear when we read ALL CAPS.

This baby is screaming. This is what we hear when we read ALL CAPS.

If only adults are allowed to vote, let’s create a mature discussion on the merits and weaknesses of each proposition. Ad hominem attacks on proposition funders, coupled with blatant appeal to emotions, wrapped in angry diatribes only serve to turn voters off and reduce the chances of true societal progress.  We can understand (although not condone) elections between candidates becoming glorified beauty pageants, but are we seriously making propositions into a contest of which side can use more uppercase words?

And all this makes frustrated voters more vulnerable to being manipulated. Many times while going through this guide, we’ve wanted to do nothing more than throw it across a room in a fit of rage. Less patient prospective voters who haven’t completely given up on voting are made susceptible to voting based on what their newspaper said or which ads they’ve seen more or what they see more often in their Facebook newsfeed.

So here is our message to those arguing for and against propositions: if your goal really is societal progress, then you need to step back and ask yourself whether this presentation of propositions is appropriate. If societal progress is not your goal, then you need to get yourself out of the proposition business.

And on that note, go out and vote.

Image source: Clover_1 under Creative Commons

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