Monthly Archives: November 2012

VOTING FOR DUMMIES: the fun and easy way to fill in the little ovals

             I’m getting pretty tired of Bill Clinton calling me.

           Also California Governor Jerry Brown. I get e-mails from Senator Sherrod Brown, Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, Dick Durbin and I don’t recall who else except for President Obama. He and Michelle are constantly e-mailing me and while I’m flattered they contact ME, I only hear from them and the others when they need money. Where were they when my family needed an invitation to a Thanksgiving dinner, or I needed my overtime parking ticket excused, or when someone turned over my Do-Not-Call phone number to the Telemarketers of the World Association?

            But I hope after this week, the political giants will stop calling, writing and e-mailing me.

            I hold that good thought as I turn my attention to voting, and particularly voting in California, the effect of which is listed as a clinical disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).  I come from Oregon, birthplace of the Initiative and Referendum, where ballots had several straightforward issues such as Measure 1496:  “Do you want lumber companies destroying more forests?” and Measure 7209: “Should Bumble Bee Tuna label continue to show, considering the certain ecological damage,  a small bee with a chef’s hat?”

            At least when you go online for help understanding these types of ballot measures, my native state provides sites such as that immediately advises you on Oregon’s issues:

California Prop. 32
Real, Tough Campaign Reform That Cleans Up Sacramento

            But we can’t go back to the past when times were simpler, and like many California voters, I must try to understand this election’s 11 important issues, called “propositions,” that are helpfully numbered Proposition 30 through Proposition 40. Apparently, the first 29 Propositions do not appear because of ballot space limitations.

            California tries to help voters understand the propositions by mailing out sample ballots and a simple brochure (“Official Voter Information Guide”) of 143 pages. The Guide includes an analysis of each of the propositions including its background and fiscal effects. This is followed by arguments in favor of the proposition, arguments against the proposition, then the rebuttal to argument in favor of the proposition, then the rebuttal to argument against the proposition, followed by counter-arguments to the rebuttal in favor of the proposition, counter-arguments to the rebuttal against the proposition, then the refutation to the counter-arguments to the rebuttal against the proposition and the refutation to the counter-arguments to the rebuttal in favor of the propositions. It’s that simple.

            For further clarity, each of these arguments may contain attention-grabbing capital letters  (“ELIMINATE THE LOOPHOLES,” “CREATES JOBS,” “SAY NO TO HIGHER TAXES,WASTEFUL SPENDING,” “YOU LIE!,” “SALE ENDS NOV. 30.”)

            As a tool to help California voters understand exactly what they’re voting for, however, the Guide falls short. Fortunately, after living in California 23 years, I’ve learned a fool-proof method so I can avoid reading and re-reading the propositions and stressing out:

            First, I rely on the Easy Voter Guide provided by the League of Women Voters, since the League studies many of the issues, but much more important, the Easy Voter Guide is 12 pages and in color. They also use the formal Roger Ebert/ Gene Siskel Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down Voting Icon. Then, when I’m in the voting booth, I apply the Anti-Obfuscation Rule: (You have five minutes here to look up “Obfuscation.”)



            Now that you realize the problem, here’s the key to voting on the propositions:

         A YES vote means you don’t like the current law.

         A NO vote means you want to change the current law.

        That’s it—–Ninety percent (90%) of the time, the phrasing of the proposition will be the exact opposite of what you think it means.

            Also, you must vote even for those unknown candidates running for jobs you didn’t know existed, such as “Community College Trustee Area No. 11,” “Republican Central Committee Member,”  or “La Trene Sanitation District.”  If you leave these positions blank, your failure may cause Barack Obama or Mitt Romney to lose by one vote. This will require the Presidential election to be handed over to the current United States Supreme Court which will be the deciding body that declares the winner to be Al Gore.