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November election

As a Californian voter currently living outside the country, I’m an absentee voter who just got the absentee balloting materials in the mail. And as always, I’m struck by how many propositions are included. It feels like there are more and more propositions included in the ballot each election. I’m too lazy to check, however.

If there is anyone who is keeping track of my political views, then they’ll obviously know that I’m going to vote for Barack Obama over John McCain. I still need to do some research to get a feel for the candidates for the other elected positions, though. I’ll have to get it done by this weekend, which is when I’m mailing in the ballot.

As for the propositions explained in the California Voter Information Guide, I’m voting the way I enumerate below. I’m generally against propositions since a lot of them should be bills voted by the state legislature (that’s what we vote them in for), and I’m also generally against bond measures since the state already has too much debt. But this is by no means an ironclad rule. And while secret ballots are a cornerstone of a properly functioning democracy, I’m too passive-aggressive to change my vote from intimidation. I also have enough faith in my character to not be influenced by bribes (not that I expect any). And who knows? I might get feedback which could change my mind before the weekend.

Yea on Proposition 1

It’s an investment in transportation infrastructure that should reduce traffic problems such as pollution and congestion. Even with the $40 billion price tag, out of which this proposition offers $10 billion from bonds, I think a high-speed railway system would make travel easier, save overall transportation costs, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and might actually help stimulate the economy.

Nay on Proposition 2

While I’m not unsympathetic to the humane treatment of animals, I’m not empathetic enough to want a law mandating how farm animals are treated. The proposition might be proposing standards that are too stringent.

Nay on Proposition 3

Revamping the infrastructure for child healthcare is a worthwhile cause, but I don’t think the general state budget should be the source of funds. And there should be a limit on how much we throw money at it: money doesn’t grow on trees and there was already a similar half-billion dollar measure in 2004. This is the kind of problem that the money we pay for our healthcare is for.

Nay on Proposition 4

The same attempt by the anti-choice crowd is again on the ballot, as they try to put obstacles to safe abortion by proposing a notification law. And I’m voting against it yet again.

Yea on Proposition 5

Criminalizing drug use and distribution seems to be doing more harm than good by increasing crime and having enormous amounts of resources being devoted to enforcement. There are also way too many people in jail. Proposition 5 proposes treatment over imprisonment and shorter parole periods for non-violent offenders, which is probably a step in the right direction. While treatment programs might cost the state, I suspect that they would be outweighed by the savings from imprisonment programs. Not to mention that there would be a lot less productive people who can’t get good jobs because of a criminal record.

Nay on Proposition 6

Why is this on the ballot? The state legislature should be handling this.

Undecided on Proposition 7

While a mandate for increasing use of clean and renewable energy sources is not a bad idea, given that a free market is optimized for the short-term and tends to ignore long-term consequences, the intricacies of Proposition 7 has me unsure of whether it’s a good measure or not. One side argues that it is, while the other argues that it would kill small companies providing energy from renewable sources. I need to take a closer look at it.

Nay on Proposition 8

Ban gay marriage? No, I happen to be one of those people who don’t want to take rights away from people simply because they have a different sexual orientation.

Nay on Proposition 9

Doesn’t seem to do much for crime victims over what’s already available while simultaneously eroding the rights of the incarcerated too much. At least that’s the way I’m leaning in my understanding.

Nay on Proposition 10

While encouraging the development of vehicles powered by clean energy is a good thing, I think funding should be done by the private sector. Regulations and tax breaks seem to be a better way to encourage research and development rather than subsidies.

Nay on Proposition 11

While it seems silly to have legislature members draw the map of districts for electing legislature members, a clear conflict of interest, it’s also a thorny issue to devise an approach that is both fair and accountable. I’m leaning against the proposed citizen commission. Maybe I would be more agreeable if the commission were to be formed out of summoned citizens instead of those that actively applied.

Yea on Proposition 12

Support our troops and veterans. And being a loan program, it doesn’t really cost the taxpayers much, if at all. With the state legislature being unanimously in favor of the measure, it wouldn’t even be on the ballot if it weren’t a bond measure.

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