How To Evaluate Ballot Propositions

  • Examine what the measure seeks to accomplish. Do you agree with those goals? Is the measure seeking changes that are consistent with your ideas about government? Do you think the proposed changes will make things better?
  • Who are the real sponsors and opponents of the measure? Check where the money is coming from with Maplight's VotersEdge campaign finance website.
  • Is the measure written well? Will it create conflicts in law that may require court resolution or interpretation? Is it “good government,” or will it cause more problems than it will resolve?
  • Does the measure create its own revenue source? Does it earmark, restrict or obligate government revenues? If so, weigh the benefit of securing funding for the measure’s program against the cost of reducing overall flexibility in the budget.
  • Does the measure mandate a government program or service without addressing how it will be funded?
  • Does the measure deal with one issue that can be easily decided by a YES or NO vote? Or, is it a complex issue that should be thoroughly examined in the legislative arena?
  • If the measure amends the Constitution, consider whether it really belongs in the Constitution. Would a statute accomplish the same purpose? Remember that all constitutional amendments require voter approval: what we put into the Constitution would have to come back to the ballot to be changed.
  • Be wary of distortion tactics and commercials that rely on image but tell nothing of substance about the measure. Beware of half truths.
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