Monday, November 24, 2008

Another election season as a California expat

As I prepared for the election by having my biannual pre-election phone consult with my father I thought, how can I ever stop voting in California? I would miss this so much. It is our bonding time in a very real way, as my dad talks me through the various judicial candidates and ballot propositions – with my mom in the background adding her perspective and keeping him honest. It’s a Sunkist Family Special.

We Californians voted for Barak Obama by 61.2% compared to 37% for McCain. That was exciting, but it also means that on election night a bigger question was how the various ballot measures were going to turn out. There were 12 state-wide ballot measures, plus various county and local measures. (Prop 8 deserves its own discussion, so today I’ll only touch it in relation to the other measures.) People outside Cali seem to think Californians are totally liberal, but that misunderstands California politics. California is its own special snowflake (err, sun-flake?!). My theory is that California politics is in large part predicated on our ballot-measure voting system. That is to say, the general population is able to pick-and-choose their issues; opinions are mixed and people can vote their opinion on separate topics.

For an overview, Californian voters over my lifetime have tended to be: pro-choice, pro-environment, anti-immigration, anti-criminal (e.g. pro-three-strikes law, pro-capital punishment), and anti-though-increasingly-divided-on- gay marriage.

Thus some key results from 2008:
Prop 2: Farm Animals: Yes 63.4%, No 36.6%
Prop 4: Parental Notification: Yes 47.7%, No 52.3%
Prop 5: Nonviolent Drug Offense: Yes 40.3%, No 59.7%
Prop 8: Ban Same-Sex Marriage: Yes 52.1%, No 47.9%

Where Prop 2 requires better treatment of farm animals; Prop 4 would have required parental notification for abortion; Prop 5 would have improved treatment programs and reduced prison sentences for nonviolent drug offences; and Prop 8 amends the CA state constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

[Coming up next on Postcards from Outer Space, a discussion of Prop 8.]

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