Here’s a new reason not to vote for a ballot initiative: it’s too damn long.

For years, I’ve made a point of reading the full text of every initiative on the ballot. I’m behind because Prop 3 is the first initiative on this November’s ballot (Props 1 and 2 were put on the ballot by the legislature, not by voters through the petition process).

Initiatives have been getting longer—most these days are longer than 5,000 words. Surpassing 10,000 words is common. But Prop 3 runs 25,000 words. I’m still checking on whether that’s a record or not.

To put that in context, Prop 3—a water bond – is more than three times longer than the U.S. Constitution.

In text, it’s 51 single-spaced pages.

What’s in there? A lot of stuff about how the water bond money will be distributed and overseen. It’s not an easy or fun read.

Detail is often good in legislation, but in ballot initiatives, detail is deadly. Because ballot initiatives in California can’t be changed except by another vote of the people. So any error or mistake in those 25,000 words – and it’s good bet there are some mistakes – won’t be able to fixed without the people. And the initiative specifically says that it will take precedence over the state’s existing and complicated laws on water.

There are good things—it’s an initiative statute, not a constitutional amendment, so it won’t be adding to our grossly long state constitution. It doesn’t introduce new supermajorities (or at least I didn’t detect any new supermajorities—my eyelids were heavy by the end), as many other initiatives do. And it doesn’t try to seize the powers of the attorney general to defend the initiative in court, as many other initiatives do.

But it simply contains too much for me to have any confidence about the measure. And I’ve read the whole thing. If you’re voting for this, how can you be confident that you know what you’re getting?