Informed Choices: Voting with conviction

My team lost. It was devastating, but at least I felt good about the choices I made for my state and local elections. I played my part in the legalization of marijuana in the state of California. Time to get high? (Hey, I can say that now. It IS legal…)

The Slice: Taking the time to get really informed about the various state propositions and local measures without boring myself to death. #InformedChoices

Challenge: Read and study the 224-page California “voter guide” from cover to cover.

Difficulty Level: 2-green-apple

Why am I torturing myself?

Was anyone else intimidated by their voter guide when it came in the mail?  I know I was. At a whopping 224 pages, it apparently set a record in California as the thickest voter guide ever, costing taxpayers 15 million bucks to mail out.

la-pol-ca-california-voter-guide-november-ballot-20160909-snap

I figured if the state was going to spend that much of our money, then I should at least make an effort to actually read all 224 pages cover to cover and make sure I was going in on election day informed.

Good Intentions

This is how it was going to go down. I was going to sacrifice a Saturday afternoon and read all 224 pages in one go. I was equipped with a highlighter and a pen so I could highlight important bits and then circle YES or NO after reading each proposition.

I failed. I tried to do this 3 times before giving up. I managed to get through the quick summaries of all 17 measures during my first sitting. What I gleaned from those summaries was that there were 2 different propositions on the death penalty, and true to California, there were also 2 different propositions focusing on single use plastic bags. Wow.

During my second sitting, I read through the more expanded summaries, including the arguments for and against each proposition. But to be honest, it bored me to sleep. I literally fell asleep. There was drool on my booklet and everything.

Third sitting involved actually going over the language of every proposition. I read a paragraph before deciding that there must be a better and easier way to digest these propositions.

I

Just doing a standard Google search on “california propositions” yielded many things, including the online version of the 224 page voter guide as the top result.

No, thanks. Next.

I also found Ballotpedia, which is like the Wikipedia for all of the propositions. This felt a bit more comfortable to me since I am used to the style and concept of Wikipedia. I also liked that it listed how much money was spent campaigning for each proposition. This was a ton of information though, and while I could have spent an entire day just consuming all of this information, it did not help me make up my mind on any of the propositions I was still unsure about.

As election day was rapidly approaching, I was speaking to a student I worked with, who just so happened to be promoting an app he helped develop called BallotView.

THIS WAS IT!  This was what I desperately wanted and needed. The main message on their homepage was “Voting should be easy.”  I could not agree more. With this app (you can do this on their website too), all you have to do is enter your address and it pulls up your own ballot, breaking everything down into manageable chunks. With BallotView, you can choose your options, save your ballot, and even print it all out to take with you to your polling place. The interface is super easy to navigate and the overall look is clean and simple. I highly recommend it!

What I Learned

Good intentions don’t mean you have to torture yourself. Our government should spend our tax dollars more wisely. I rather see some of that $15 million go towards funding projects like BallotView. While I understand the need to be inclusive and not everyone is comfortable with the internet, more resources should have been used to at least make the online version of the voter guide more user friendly. In the end though, I am happy to be living in a country where when we can’t rely on the government, we have the option to go to great young minds that can get the job done.

angelavoted

Angela Teng is YDA’s mind contributor. With the bad guys winning the Presidential election, Angela hopes to affect future outcomes by encouraging readers not to be bamboozled by fake news.

One thought on “Informed Choices: Voting with conviction

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