Prop 34 and Prop 37: In California the Propositions are More Important Than the Vote for President


Like the rest of the country, California is constantly bombarded with campaign rhetoric telling us that if we believe in America we’ll vote Romney, yet Obama is the clear choice if we want to move forward. To be honest, everyone knows –– conservatives and liberals alike –– that all of this campaigning is a waste of time for both the presidential candidates and eligible California voters. California is far from a swing-state, and we already know at the end of the day, those 55 Electoral College votes are in Obama’s back pocket. That said, it’s not voting for president that gets people to turn up on Election Day, it’s voting for propositions. 

Only 24 states have propositions, i.e. the initiative process, and California is famous for theirs. Along with voting for the leader of this great nation, Californians also have the opportunity to vote on a plethora of statewide issues ranging from tax increases to the continuation of the death penalty. With those kinds of issues at stake, voters have the power to make a direct and tangible difference in the way their government is run. Just days before the election, two propositions have emerged as the most controversial potential changes for California; Prop 34 and Prop 37.

Prop 34 allows voters to decide on the fate of the death penalty. A “yes” vote would replace the death penalty with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, which would add California to the growing list of states that have abolished the longstanding institution. Since it’s introduction onto the ballot, there has been a lot of talk surrounding the moral implications of sentencing people to death along with the potential financial savings for the state. Early indicators show that “Yes on Prop 34” will take the lead. Nonetheless, both sides have a real chance of winning as many voters remain undecided on how to handle this ethical and political dilemma. 

The other much talked about ballot initiative, Prop 37, would require labels to indicate if foods include genetically modified ingredients. There are impassioned arguments on both sides, with supporters saying it’s only right that people know what they’re eating, while those against the proposition say it would cost taxpayers and it’s a deceptive labeling scheme. Although common sense favors passing the initiative, critics are right in saying there is no way to tell how much money this could cost Californians and cause in an increase in family grocery bills.

While those are just two of the 10 propositions on the ballot, they illustrate the breadth of concerns that Californians are highly invested in. On Tuesday, voters have the chance to have their voices heard.

Even though we already know which way California will go when the votes for president are counted, we won’t know anything else until the people speak on Nov. 6.