Majority Rules: California’s Proposition System Explained [Infographic]

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, propositions are an entrenched part of California’s political system. In nearly every statewide election, voters wade through a slurry of local and statewide ballot measures, part of a system intended to expand direct democracy. Some are really complicated, some are controversial, and some are just kind of weird (like when voters passed Prop 6 in 1998, making it a felony for anyone to use a horse for meat — including a pony, donkey or mule, or this year’s failed effort to get a measure on the ballot to split California into six states). In next week’s midterm election, Californians will decide on six statewide propositions, in addition to a likely host of county and local measures.

So how do propositions actually make it onto the ballot? What are the different types? And what exactly is a referendum anyway? Comic journalist Andy Warner demystifies the Golden State’s century-old process.  Continue reading

California Voting Got You Down? Check Out This Interactive Election Guide

Let’s face it: voting in California can be downright daunting. Ballots are typically long and confusing, with lots of complicated propositions and non-sexy political races that you might not feel fully prepared — or interested — in weighing in on. And this being a midterm election, voter participation is expected to drop significantly from 2012. That said, there are some pretty important local and statewide issues at stake.

Despite the political fatigue most of us likely feel from the season’s less-than-charming barrage of campaign ads and mailings, it really is in our best interest, as voters, to study up and make informed decisions at the polls — lest we find ourselves with leaders and laws we never bargained for. To get you prepped for the statewide races, KQED’s Election Watch 2014 team prepared this nifty — and objective — campaign guide that explains everything from what a controller does to the politics of medical malpractice. Read up and take it with you to the polls (on your device or printed out). Don’t worry, it’s not considered cheating.

Which Propositions Passed (and which counties voted for them)?

Includes interactive map

Let’s be honest: voting in California can be kind of overwhelming.

Along with having to decide on a president, a senator, state and local officials, and local ballot measures, California voters were also faced with no less than eleven statewide propositions this election. Of these, five passed.

The map below shows which counties supported what (counties in green voted Yes, those in red voted No). The voting patterns emphasize the fairly sharp political divide between more liberal counties in and around the Bay Area, Los Angeles and along the coast, and the far more conservative counties of the Central Valley.

Who’s Paying for the Propositions? Follow the Money!

Includes interactive funding chart

Individuals and organizations are spending millions in the 2012 statewide election to get various California statewide propositions passed or defeated. Anyone who’s watched even a smidgen of TV in the last two months can attest to the saturation of proposition-related commercials out there. Often times, the names, affiliations, and locations (they’re often out-of-state) of the funders are intentionally vague – organizations like Americans for Responsible Leadership (who, by the way, has donated $11 million to Prop 32), making it nearly impossible to tell what a funder’s political affiliation or specific agenda might be. So, a little sleuthing can go a long way to find out who’s behind which measure. Bottom line: you always have to follow the money! And the Voter’s Edge project at MapLight – a nonpartisan, nonprofit research firm – makes it pretty easy to track the cash flow. Check out their app: