California primaries

Voting time again, and as I normally do, here's a record of who and what I'm voting for and why, in the hope that it will be useful to others.

Propositions:

Proposition 13: YES. We're only voting on this because of the dumb rules around taxes in this state. It's a straightforward cleanup of the property tax codes around earthquake safety improvements that basically simplifies and merges existing exclusions for property tax reassessment and makes the law simpler. In a sane legal system, the state assembly would have been able to just pass this. No one is even bothering to argue against it.

Proposition 14: YES. This is the reason to vote in this primary. Even if you don't care about anything else in the elction, go vote for this proposition.

What this proposition does is turn the California election system into a runoff system. The primaries, rather than being a selection process internal to each party (and hence often tending to select extreme candidates, particularly for Republicans in California), will become the first round of the general election. All candidates from all parties will compete together. The top two vote-getters, regardless of party, will then be on the final ballot in the November election.

I of course would love to see an even more sophisticated voting system, such as proportional representation or Condorcet, but this is a huge advance over the one-shot plurality system we have now. For tight districts balanced between Republican and Democrat, there will be no significant change; November will still see an election between the Republican and the Democrat, just with the additional clarity of having all the no-hope candidates taken off the ballot after they lose in the primaries. But in districts that are very liberal or very conservative, where the "other" party has no real chance, we'll instead have the opportunity to see two Democrats on the final ballot, perhaps one moderate and one more liberal. Or two Republicans, one moderate and one more conservative. In other words, the two largest groups in each district will have the opportunity to fight it out in the general election for who will represent that district, instead of having the election artificially forced into Democrat vs. Republican lines.

Vote for this. It's as close as you can get to an all-around win in politics. It doesn't favor either party; instead, it improves the voting system to make it more representative and more democratic in the true meaning of the term. It makes it more likely that the representative elected will be close to the prevailing opinion of the district in which they're elected. The only people who can possibly gain from this proposition failing are the moribund leadership of the two big parties, who enjoy and manipulate the current system and who are afraid of possibly seeing final election ballots between a Democrat and a Green or a Republican and a Tea Party candidate, because they want elections to be forced into the Democrat vs. Republican dichotomy instead of reflecting the actual splits within the district.

If you want electoral reform, vote for this proposition. It's the best and most practical voting reform we're likely to ever see on the ballot.

Proposition 15: YES. I'm in general very skeptical of public funding of elections in the United States, mostly because any voluntary system will not effectively remove lobbyist money from elections. As soon as there's enough money at stake, the candidate will just opt out of the system.

However, I think that this proposition might have some minor positive effects in some situations, particularly involving smaller races, and I think it's an experiment we have to continue to try. I also see no effective drawback. The public funding is coming entirely from new taxes on lobbyists, and I'm happy to see them pay way, way more than the taxes levied by this proposition. The endorsements are also impressive, from the AARP to the League of Women Voters, and the arguments against the proposition printed in the voter information guide are basically lies.

Proposition 16: NO. You're kidding me, right? It's been a while since I've seen such a blatant attempt by a corporation to pass a law designed to limit the competition they have to face. What this proposition basically says is that local communities aren't allowed to switch away from PG&E to a less stupid, less mis-managed, and less corrupt way of handling power generation. As a former PG&E customer and a happy customer of exactly the sort of municipal utility that this proposition would make considerably more difficult, fuck PG&E. Vote no.

Proposition 17: NO. Because of course what we need in the middle of a recession is another way to screw over poor people.

These laws are either written by people who are outright evil, or they're written by people who have never known anyone who struggled to make ends meet in their life. I have a friend who had to drop auto insurance for financial reasons (and then struggle to get to work without driving) until he could save enough money to afford the premium. Proposition 17 would have made that premium even higher because there was a period when he couldn't afford it. This is bullshit. The mild decline that some of us may receive in insurance rates isn't worth the blatant unfairness.

Statewide office:

I'm registered decline-to-state, so I get a non-partisan ballot, which may be substantially different than what other people see. (Vote for Proposition 14!) Only listing primaries where there's some hope of a contested race.

Lieutenant Governor: Gavin Newsom. He's not someone I particularly like at a personal level (I think he's a publicity-seeking grandstander), but he's still about the most progressive person who has any chance of getting elected to state-wide office, and I'm happy to support that.

Attorney General: Kamala Harris. My primary goal in voting for attorney general is to try to find someone who's not "tough on crime" and instead understands that crime is a harder problem than locking people up. Harris seems like the best of a fairly uninspiring lot, among the candidates who look likely to win. One can certainly do worse than a black woman who grew up in Oakland when looking for someone who understands the complexity of crime problems.

Insurance Commissioner: Dave Jones. Both candidates in the primary look solid. I'll go with the one with the Chronicle and Mercury News endorsements.

Local offices:

State Assembly (District 21): Josh Becker. Rich Gordon is getting the general endorsements because he has more practical experience, but given how messed up state government is right now, I'd rather elect someone a bit different.

Judge of the Superior Court (Office 7): Thomas Spielbauer. As previously mentioned here, I lean towards voting against all prosecutors for judges. I'm even more comfortable with that decision here, based on the candidate statements. Spielbauer sounds like exactly ths sort of judge we could use more of: concerned with fairness, concerned with citizen rights, and not inclined to defer to prosecutors.

Judge of the Superior Court (Office 11): Vanessa A. Zecher. A prosecutor versus a former district attorney. Eh. Voting for the one who isn't currently a prosecutor.

Judge of the Superior Court (Office 11): Bob Camors. Voting for the non-prosecutor and the person who states in their position statement that they want rehabilitiation for non-violent drug offenders.

Posted: 2010-05-22 13:17 — Why no comments?

Last spun 2013-07-01 from thread modified 2013-01-04