There’s an oft-repeated error in the recent rash of stories about what is shaping up as a very long slate of ballot initiatives for California voters in November 2016.

The stories have quotes in which political consultants and others worry about “voter fatigue.” That’s the idea that with too many things on the ballot – measures and all kinds of candidates – people stop voting.

I’m sorry, but “voter fatigue” isn’t the problem here. It’s voter ignorance.

Serious voters – and those are just about the only people still voting in low-turnout California – want to vote with some knowledge about the subject. But when you put that many measures on one ballot, you simply can’t be well informed enough. So wise voters, acknowledging their ignorance, vote no or leave things blank.

It’s blame-the-victim wrong to call that voter fatigue. The real problem is systemic: having many measures, all at once, is too much for California’s very weak democratic infrastructure to process.

What do I mean by that? Newspapers and other media simply don’t have enough time, space or resources to dig deeply into so many measures (they typically struggle to do a good job on one or two). California’s civic forums can’t handle events on all these subjects – nor could normal citizens have the time to attend so many different events. And the new online efforts to help voters with ballot measures have limited bandwidth as well.

If California is going to have so many measures, it needs a different calendar for voting on them. That calendar should give voters—and the media and civic infrastructure – time and space to give attention and scrutiny to each measure.

That means voters should not cast ballots on initiatives at the same time they vote on candidates – it’s two different roles, and candidates steal attention from measures. The measures also should be spread out – voting four times a year would make sense. In that case, California voters, instead of considering a dozen or so measures together on a November 2016 ballot, would see three measures every three months. (This is how Switzerland does ballot measure voting, it’s worth mention). Those elections could be by mail or Internet to reduce costs and make things more convenient.

Another idea: make initiative sponsors wait much longer to get on ballots. There’s no good reason why an initiative qualified in April needs to be voted on in November. Why not wait a year or two to give more time for debate?

But initiative ‘reform” has run the other way. Gov. Brown created this mess by forcing all the initiatives onto November ballots—on the false premise that this was the “general election.” (Under the top-two system, the June election, what Californians mistakenly call the “primary” even though there are no primaries anymore, is really the general election). It’s fair to ask if Gov. Brown prefers voter ignorance – since he was warned in this space and by other voices about exactly the problem we’ll see in November 2016 of too many measures on one ballot. And this is the man who advised people to “shut up” if they had things to say about his water tunnels plan.

Another point: the much touted initiative “reform” from last year was supposed to create more time and space for deliberation. But it hasn’t—initiatives are still rushed to the ballot, and the negotiations over measures right now are taking place behind closed doors.

It’s time for California to actually reform initiative process – so that it works for voters and is integrated with our other institutions.