Don’t judge a ballot by its news coverage

Eric Ahern

Believe it or not, the presidential election is not the only item on the ballot this Tuesday. If you religiously followed election news stories covered by large media outlets such as CNN, Fox News and the New York Times, you may not even know that there are other issues on which the American public has the option of voting. In fact, besides the election of the president and congressmen, citizens across the country will have the opportunity to vote on a variety of different state propositions — 17 in California alone.

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Image courtesy of pixababy.com

The 2016 California propositions include: Prop 64 (legalizes Marijuana), Prop 60 (requires porn stars to wear condoms), Prop 51 (borrows $9 billion to build and improve school facilities), Prop 62/66 (repeals or speeds up the death penalty, respectively) and more.

The issues that these propositions combat are relevant and often interesting, yet they are still ignored by major news networks. However, that does not mean that they aren’t important. In reality, the decisions made Tuesday could arguably have more of an impact on your future than whoever is named commander-in-chief, which is why it is so crucial to research and vote on the propositions present on the state ballot.

It is also important to keep in mind that whoever is elected president will potentially only be in office for four years, while the approved state propositions will likely remain in effect for generations to come. Certain laws that exist in the state of California have been in place since the beginning of the 1900’s. In addition, it is extremely rare for a law to be voted out of the capitol building after only one election cycle, which is fairly commonplace for the presidency, as 48% of presidents served just one term or less.

Second, unlike the current electoral college system we have in place, all of the state propositions are either passed or shut down by a simple majority vote. This means that your vote truly does matter! Technically speaking, your vote could literally be the tiebreaker on a decision that could influence California indefinitely. If it ever does come down to that, you are going to want to have done your research on the ballot.

There are many helpful, unbiased websites which you can use to educate yourself about the issues that are voted on. Ballot.fyi is an unbiased, youth-friendly site that provides breakdowns of each issue in addition to the pros and cons of passing each proposition. The state of California also provides a quick reference guide at voterguide.sos.gov.

Everyone in this school, excluding a minority of freshmen who are still 13, either currently has the privilege to vote on the current state propositions or will be able to vote in one of the next two elections. As Californians and United States citizens, it is our right and our civic duty to vote, so go out and do so! Let your voice be heard by taking advantage of the liberty that so many people across the world are not granted.

Just remember this: even if you choose not to make decisions that affect your government, your government will still be making decisions that affect you.