Voting Local Means More Than You Think

As Americans, we tend to get wrapped up in the main event that is the presidential election and ignore the election process at the state and local levels—but, the results of these elections have a significantly more real impact on our daily lives.

After declining for years and years, California’s voter turnout reached a record low in 2014 when a mere 18 percent of eligible voters (3.7 percent of young eligible voters) participated in the June primary and only 30 percent cast ballots in the November election, according to the California Civic Engagement Project (CCEP) and the United States Elections Project. And that’s just at the state level. It is common for local elections to see single-digit turnout, especially in Los Angeles.

This downward trend has been continuing all while state legislature has made voter registration and voting easier because of low participation. (It is even law for employees to get paid while they go and vote!)

This is most likely due to the fact that so many Americans hold the sentiment that their single vote will not create any kind of substantial change in the grand scheme of thingsthat government has no relevance to their lives or that politics are rigged.

Whatever the reason, one thing is truethose who show up to the polls are often richer, older and whiter. In turn, their interests are given the most power. By voting local, we can have extraordinary impact within our communities.

County and city officials affect our living situations. It is our mayors and city councilmembers who elect police chiefs, who play important roles in either perpetuating or combating police brutality. Elected school boards govern public-school districts and, therefore, the education of millions of children. Judges and district attorneys change lives daily. The decisions on who is appointed to these positions are made at the state and citywide levels.

If we want to create change, we must start closest to home.

From everything to porn to the death penalty, we have a say and a chance to put our beliefs into action. The power of this should not be underestimated.

Without further ado, here is a list of California’s propositions that will be on the ballot on Nov. 8 and some links to help you make informed decisions about local government.

PROP 51
Would use $9 billion to build and improve public schools.
*This is the biggest initiative on the ballot financially.
Read more
here.

PROP 52
Would continue to make money for hospitals using a process created in 2009.
Read more
here.

PROP 53
Would require statewide voter approval of public infrastructure projects exceeding $2 billion in cost.
Read more
here.

PROP 54
Would require that bills be put online and published in print three days before state legislature can vote on it.
Read more
here.

PROP 55
Would extend an income tax for the very wealthy.
*The money would be invested in education, Medi-Cal and budget reserves.
Read more
here.

PROP 56
Would put a $2 tax increase on tobacco products and e-cigarettes.
Read more
here.

PROP 57
Would allow those incarcerated for nonviolent crimes more opportunities to receive parole as well as mandate that a judge must approve a county prosecutor’s decision to try a juvenile as an adult in a separate trial.
Read more
here.

PROP 58
Would give schools and local communities flexibility in how they choose to teach non-English speakers the language.
Read more
here.

PROP 59
Would tell our state government that we do not support unlimited political spending by corporations (Citizens United).
*Pass or fail, there will be no legal repercussions.

Read more here.

PROP 60
Would require people engaging in sexual intercourse for porn films to wear condoms.
Read more
here.

PROP 61
Could decrease manufacturer drug prices for state agencies. Under this proposition, the state will not be able to buy a drug more expensive than what the Veteran Affairs (VA) pays, aka the lowest price.
Read more here.

PROP 62 & 66
Prop 62 will repeal the death penalty, replacing it with a life sentence and no chance of parole. Prop 66 will speed up the process. The proposition with the most votes will pass.
*The United States is the only western nation that enforces capital execution.
Read more
here.

PROP 63
Would enforce stricter gun control.
*California has led the way in this area.
Read more
here.

PROP 64
Would legalize recreational use of marijuana for those 21-years-old or older.
Read more here.

PROP 67 & 65
Prop 67 would ban plastic bags. Prop 65 decides where the bag fee will go.
*Probably the most complicated measure on the ballot.
Read more
here.

Finally, you can research your city and county candidates here.