As San Franciscans prepare to vote in yet another election, many of them are looking at the bloated voter pamphlets that arrived in the mail and wondering if they can ever get through them. John Diaz in the S.F. Chronicle this morning writes about how far we have come from the idea of a citizen-controlled government. Most initiatives today, far from being introduced by ordinary citizens, are put on the ballot by wealthy individuals or groups with deep pockets and special interests. The topics this year for Californians to choose from range from cars fueled by natural gas to increasing crime victims rights and decreasing the age at which teenagers can be tried as adults from 16 to 14. Many of the propositions deal with issues the legislators should handle on their own. Diaz points to the one initiative on the ballot–Prop 11–which could only have appeared as an initiative. This proposal, strongly supported by the League of Women Voters, changes the method of redrawing electoral districts to reflect population changes. It takes the process out of the hands of the legislature and authorizes a bipartisan citizens committee to do the work. Despite the burden of a long, unwieldy ballot, it is well worth the voter’s time to work all the way down to Proposition 11 and cast a vote to support it.
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