Often voters complain that ballot propositions are so confusing that they are not certain if the vote they cast actually goes towards the ends they hope to achieve. In other words, a yes vote might mean no and vice-versa. That is actually true when it comes to voting on a referendum and there is a referendum that’s on the November ballot that could challenge voters with its yes/no logic.
Proposition 40 is a referendum that was placed on the ballot to undo the Citizens Redistricting Commission’s state Senate district lines. The proponents behind the measure have abandoned their effort following a California Supreme Court decision that confirmed the commission’s lines.
However, the measure remains on the ballot to be decided by the voters.
Normally, when voters vote “yes” on a ballot measure they are voting for some change. When a “no” vote prevails a measure is defeated and the status quo remains – nothing has changed.
Not so with Prop 40.
Currently, the Senate districts drawn by the Citizens Commission are in place to determine senate district lines. To keep those lines in place, Prop 40 must pass, preserving the status quo. If the “no” side prevails, the Commissions’ lines would be junked, and a court would appoint special masters to determine senate lines.
With a referendum, a government action or law is being referred to voters for approval. Essentially, the question posed to voters in a referendum is: Should the law in place remain?
A “yes” vote is saying the voters want to keep the senate district lines drawn by the Commission.
This confusing situation could undercut a measure that has no opposition. In fact, in the official ballot booklet on the propositions, the proponent wrote: “With the court’s action, this measure is not needed and we are no longer asking for a NO vote.”
Another problem for Proposition 40 is that it is the last measure in a long list of eleven ballot propositions. Some political observers believe voters tired of voting, and just vote no toward the end of the ballot. After all, they probably figure if they vote “no” they are doing no damage – nothing will change.
That’s not the case with Prop 40. A “no” vote in this case would bring change from the current district lines. We’ll see if the old lament of voters complaining about “yes” means “no” plays out this election.