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

Yesterday the Daily Cal exploded endorsements for the 2008 election, and when we say ‘sploded, we mean it. Below, we’ve transcribed the notable for the Berkeley Ballot, but the Web site has the full list, including all the arguments and justifications. Keep in mind that the Daily Cal also has a directory of voter resources and information on state propositions.

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The San Francisco Bay Guardian released its endorsements earlier this week, and there are no surprises for the biggie propositions or for the presidential candidate. Peruse the arguments on the SFBG site if you need some fodder for your absentee vote or just need something to tide you over until the Daily Cal tells you how to vote. Keep in mind that we are no way endorsing these endorsements … but you can use them as a springboard.

* Barack Obama (duh)

California Ballot Measures
* Proposition 1A (high speed rail bond): an exuberant Yes
* Proposition 2 (farm animal protection): Yes
* Proposition 3 (children’s hospital bonds): No
* Proposition 4 (parental notification and wait period for abortion): a resounding No
* Proposition 5 (treatment instead of jail): Yes
* Proposition 6 (prison spending): a loud No
* Proposition 7 (renewable-energy generation): No
* Proposition 8 (ban on same-sex marriage): an absolute No
* Proposition 9 (restrictions on parole): another strong No
* Proposition 10 (alternative-fuel vehicles bond): No
* Proposition 11 (redistricting commission): No
* Proposition 12 (veterans bond act): Yes

The SFBG folks also weighed in on East Bay goings-on and congressional races. Don’t forget that Oct. 20 is the last day to register to vote in the state of California, and you know, it might behoove you to register with your Berkeley address.

Image Source: Poppyseed Bandits under Creative Commons
Endorsements 2008 [SFBG]