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An example of the lunatic vote...
A strange result came out of California last night. It shows how much there's a lunatic fringe, or perhaps stupid voters, out there, and is perhaps emblematic of more general voting problems.

Here's the background: Two years ago, in 2008, voters in California were offered a ballot initiative that would create a separate commission to propose redistricting of California state elected officials (Assembly, Senate, etc). This commission would be made up of folks chosen by the political parties, but would be tasked with doing it in a non-partisan way. The idea was that redistricting shouldn't be in the hands of whichever party controls the California Legislature at the time redistricting happens. The California voters liked the idea, and the ballot initiative passed.

This year, there were two ballot initiatives relating to the redistricting commission. One, Proposition 20, would extend the responsibilities of the redistricting commission to include House districts as well. The other, Proposition 27, would eliminate the redistricting commission and return those powers to the State Legislature.

Effectively there are three choices: Vote No on both, and the commission handles districts for state office, not federal. Vote Yes on 20 and No on 27, and the commission handles both state and federal districts. Vote Yes on 27 and No on 20, and the commission is disbanded. Voting Yes to both would mean you want the commission to be expanded and disbanded simultaneously. The rules for the election covered that: the folks running the election stated that if both 20 and 27 passed, just the one which got the most votes would be implemented.

Here's the idiocy: 61% of the voters voted for 20; 59% voted for 27. That means that approximately 1 in 5 California voter chose to vote for two mutually exclusive ballot measures. What were they thinking? Were they thinking?

I can think of two, IMHO unlikely, charitable reasons for the vote: First, nothing says you actually have to vote on a particular ballot measure. There could be a lot of people who voted on one measure, but not on another. That seems unlikely to me. Second, a large number of people could have thought "all or none is better than half-measures" and voted in a way which would ensure that at least one of 20 or 27 passed (putting all of redistricting in the hands of the same group, rather than state districts with one group, federal another), but they didn't necessarily care which. I feel that's probably a bit too strategic for most voters.