Here’s a fundamental question about November’s ballot: who is going to cover them all?

Not the state’s media. There are simply too many ballot measures – at least a dozen statewide, and as many as 20 – and too few media members with the airtime and space and hours to delve into them all.

In a serious democracy, this sad state of affairs would lead to action—to push off measures to future ballots, or figure out ways to provide public supporting for deep reporting on such important voter decisions. But if you follow California politics, you know this isn’t a serious democracy.

So voters will go to the polls with little sense of nearly all the measures, and the debates around them. Yes, there will be voter guides on the web, and editorials from most newspapers. But voters need more – a sense of the drama, stakes, players and backers. They need analysis of all the complicated issues involved in these complicated measures – tax policy, gun policy, drug policy, just to name a few.

That requires following a story over many months with real media coverage. And we simply don’t have a media robust enough for our long ballots.

Even informed citizens won’t be informed. And so the best choice will be to vote “no” on everything.

Fixing this requires changes not only in ballot measures but also in our media. On the ballot side, the state should separate measures from candidate elections and make sure voters are never considering more than 4 statewide measures at a time. The best solution would be to have elections on a few ballot measures every few months, to allow for proper coverage.

In the meantime, the state itself needs to devise a model to make sure that voters get real coverage of ballot measures. Yes, there should be much more public pressure on news outlets to make sure they assign at least one reporter to every campaign, and provide regular coverage. But more is needed.

And that means – yes – actual state support for media coverage. That could come through direct subsidy, or through people. It’d be cheap—a tiny fraction of the tax giveaways to aerospace and Hollywood that the legislature is so fond of.

The contribution from the state could also come in the form of human beings: Why not release the dozens of former journalists who now work in state government to cover the campaigns for the 6 months before an election?