Nonpartisan guide helps voters decipher California’s most complex election in decades amidst spike in voter registrations, election spending

Thursday, October 13, 2016
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California Choices provides voters with endorsements, pros and cons and polling data to weigh the state’s 17 ballot propositions
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SAN FRANCISCO—California’s most complex, and potentially expensive election calls for a comprehensive voter guide. California Choices provides an unbiased platform for voters to weigh this year’s Election Day decisions, as registrations shoot up and fundraising on ballot measures nears record levels. The nonpartisan one-stop-shop for state voters allows users to view endorsements across all propositions and save and email their choices as they comb through more ballot initiatives than seen in a general election in the past 25 years.

*WEB PRODUCERS: California Choices web button and social media graphics are available for use on websites.

The newly updated website, first launched in June 2010, offers user-friendly examinations of the 17 statewide propositions and a list of all state government candidates. The most popular section of the site continues to be the “Endorsements” table, which provides a snapshot of endorsements made by 43 organizations across the political spectrum for each of the 17 ballot measures. When they are ready to choose, voters can save and email their preferences via the mobile-optimized “Save My Votes” feature, and pull up their choices in the booth on Election Day.

“Given the multitude of statewide ballot initiatives this year, we recognize that it is harder than ever for Californians to adequately research each proposition,” said F. Noel Perry, founder of the nonpartisan, nonprofit organization Next 10, which produces California Choices in partnership with the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley. “We have aggregated all the need-to-know information in one place so voters can access proposition endorsements, in-depth background details and nonpartisan polling data to help them make their decisions.”

In addition to detailed information about the measures, the interactive website includes:

  • Pro and con arguments
  • Polling data
  • Video ads and press coverage
  • A “My Votes” feature that allows voters to save, email, and access their voting preferences from another device, including a smartphone, at the polling place. Users can also opt to share their votes with family and friends via email or Facebook.

This is shaping up to be one of the more complex elections in state history as voters are tasked with determining the future of a number of important issues, including recreational marijuana legalization, the future of the death penalty, and whether to extend the Prop 30 tax increase passed in 2012. Endorsers on both sides of these issues are influencing the debates – be that through ad campaigns or political weight. Opponents have raised over $55 million in California to defeat Prop 56, which would increase the statewide sales tax on cigarettes by $2 a pack. Meanwhile, some political heavyweights have gotten behind a number of statewide ballots: the state’s Lieutenant Governor is an official proponent of Prop 63, which would ban the sale and possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines in California.

“The sweep of California’s ballot initiative process on both state and local issues is unprecedented across the country—it essentially allows all voters to decide what is law,” said Jack Citrin, Director of the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley. “Interest groups and elected officials pour millions of dollars into these ballot races to convince voters — and sometimes, to confuse them. We’re here to give Californians the facts so voters understand the issues and they, rather than money alone, determine whether a ballot initiative is adopted.”

Visit the updated site today at www.californiachoices.org and explore the “My Votes” and “Share Your Votes” features. Share this non-partisan service with your stakeholders and constituents to help California voters make informed decisions up and down the ballot this November.