Commentary

09/21/2016  by Ed Coghlan

California ballot propositions cut down to haiku size

Have you looked at the California ballot?

There are 17 statewide propositions and then, depending where you live, many more local measures for you to ponder. It's the longest ballot in a quarter of a century.

If you're like me, you might be thinking "Do I even have time to figure out what all these mean?"

That's where Damian Carroll could give you a place to start. Carroll is a Los Angeles man who has reduced all of the statewide propositions (and the several other county-wide measures in Los Angeles) to simple-to-understand haiku format. While California's informative but weighty printed voter guide contains 224 pages, Carroll attempted to profile each measure with three lines each.

Carroll once worked for Senator Jack Scott (someone he admires) and used to bring a PowerPoint presentation with him into schools to teach students about ballot propositions and other political issues.

"I tried to be even handed and approached this thinking, if I was a voter and had only a little time to figure out what each of these propositions actually does, what I would say," said Carroll.

For one of the measures we are following--Proposition 54--he wrote:

Bills Must Be Posted
On the Web for 3 days straight
Before they are passed

"People need to be educated," he said. "And for young people in particular they like the information fast. So I hope I piqued their interest."

For the marijuana-legalization Proposition 64, he played it straight:

Legalizes Pot
Also raises some tax funds
(Perhaps a Billion)

And as you may know California's ballot will feature competing measures on the death penalty issues. Carroll tackled them both with Prop 62 shortened to:

Vote for this One
If you want to eliminate
The Death Penalty

And for Prop 66:

If you want the state
To Execute More People
This One's for you

We agree with Carroll, who now works in the nonprofit sector. It's worth taking some time and really studying the ballot this year. Check out the Secretary of State's Voter Guide page or the Voter's Edge California resource. There are lots of propositions and other ballot measures in addition to the Presidential, U.S. Senate and other federal races.

But if you're that pressed for time--we've decided to post Carroll's entire list here


Correction: Earlier version of this story contained the line "Before they are posted" in the Proposition 54 haiku. It has been corrected to "Before they are passed." 

Categories: Democracy, Civic Engagement, Elections, Civic Engagement, Elections

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