TEDy: A necessary proposition

If you get confused while reading this article, don’t worry; I was confused while writing it. Even to those who fully understand their core values and beliefs, the wording and ambiguity of the propositions this voting season made an educated vote extremely difficult for the average person. This inherent block to voting is a hindrance to democracy and requires drastic alteration to let more voices be heard.

I fully realized the problem while seeking some information about Prop. 12 during a discussion with my family. Doing a quick Google search, I was bombarded with paid advertisements endorsing either side of the issue with close to identical reasons: “Vote NO to prevent animal cruelty,” or “Vote YES to improve the lives of farm animals.”

Although it seems idiotic, I can imagine the thousands of people who do not know better than to simply vote based on the first result, giving their vote to the side that can afford the more prominent advertisement. After digging through several ads telling me who to vote for, I was finally able to access the description of the proposition itself.

I was discouraged after that poor experience, but decided to educate myself, starting with the proposition that I believed would be the easiest to understand: Prop. 7.

The official summary reads: “Gives Legislature ability to change daylight saving time period by two-thirds vote, if changes are consistent with federal law.” If you’re like me, upon first read, you wouldn’t fully understand the wording of this proposition.

On the California voter guide, the pro argument said that ending our current daylight savings time period in California would stop causing harm to schoolchildren, while the other side said  that the change would cause harm to schoolchildren.

While reading the guide, I had to keep doing double takes because of how unclear and confusing the descriptions were for this single voting item.

Delving deeper into the issue only furthered my confusion. The arguments for either side had points that sounded identical to the other. This became worse for more complicated pieces of legislation.

Keep in mind that I am not an expert on these topics, but the majority of the population aren’t experts either. Many people don’t have the time to perform in-depth research on each voting item until they fully understand what they are voting for. This easily leads people to vote in favor of something that they might actually be against and vice versa, which should not be acceptable in a country that claims to give citizens a choice.

One might believe that a piece of legislation is something they would stand by, but somewhere in the fine print is some kind of condition that is overlooked.

For example,  Prop. 7 stated that even if it is passed, there needs to be additional approval by the federal government to make any changes. Supporters  assume that federal approval would come easily, neglecting the less than stellar relationship California has with Washington D.C.

Considering the many different issues that are voted on, there are layers and layers of additional complications and considerations that slip by and end up contradicting the actual opinions of voters.

Objective information should be clear, available and concise. Voters should not be misled merely by the wording of a proposition. More time should be spent polishing legal language to be easily digestible.

In American democracy, voting should be based on the choices of individuals, not on how much certain groups can spend to get their viewpoint ingrained in the minds of voters.