We're lucky enough to live in a country where not only do we have secret ballots, but where we can disclose our votes without fear of retribution, as I'm about to do:
US Representative, District 9: Jim Eyer, Libertarian Party
CA State Senate, District 9: Claudia Bermudez, GOP
CA State Assembly District 14: Myself. Nancy Skinner was running unopposed for this office. On principle I don't like seeing an unopposed candidate on the ballot, so it's my little tradition to write myself in. You can actually ambush-win small local offices this way.
Superior Court Judge: Phil Daly
AC Transit Director at Large: Chris Peeples
AC Transit Board: Greg Harper
Oakland City Council at Large: Kerry Hammill. Hammill has ties to Ignacio de la Fuente, a strong Oakland councilmember and seems to me at this point the best candidate to replace our current absentee mayor Ron Dellums. Ignacio is a hardass when it comes to crime and an unapologetic proponent of residential and business development, which of course among the local leftist activist set makes him a villain. Hammill's association with him and Jane Brunner (my own councilmember) is a big plus if you're looking for a candidate who's effective at executing a pro-development and crime-prevention agenda.
CALIFORNIA BALLOT INITIATIVES
1A (Trains): Yes
2 (Agricultural Animal Treatment): Yes – in purely practical terms, will have a positive effect on food safety, and I don't mind regulations about that.
3 (hospital bonds): No – our healthcare system's problems are at least magnified (and maybe caused) by the distortion of half-assed socialization. We don't need more government money constraining the market's behavior in healthcare.
4 (religious sneaks trying to limit abortion): No
5 (expansion of mandatory drug treatment, limitation of jail terms): No – more on this one here.
6 (safe neighborhoods): No
7 (environment): No (when PG&E and the Sierra Club oppose something, you know it sucks)
8 (Eliminates the Right to Marry): No
9 (an expensive and overambitious victim's rights bill): No
10 (alternative fuels funding): Yes
11 (redistricting rules and political accountability): Yes. Opposed by Nancy Pelosi – that should make some of my readers happy.
12 (vets' loans): No. Opposed by the Libertarian Party because the state should not be in the loan business.
OAKLAND BALLOT INITIATIVES
N (better schools): Yes. Makes teachers accountable, rewards them financially, and creates magnet schools in Oakland. Local educators screamed bloody murder about this, and it was put on the ballot by the administrator the state had to appoint because the district was such a consistent underperformer. That's a sign to me that it's a good idea.
NN (public safety funding): No. Oakland needs more law-enforcement, but the history of these types of measures is bad (because there's little control over exactly how it will be spent – like for example, there's no guarantee it will actually buy us more police.
OO (Kids First): No
VV (AC transit): No. I don't use AC transit. Sorry, everyone votes in his or her own interest. Send the buses to places where I might ride them, and then I'll change my mind.
WW (bond for parks): Yes. No-brainer. Check this article.
Suggestions for electoral innovations:
- Abolish the Electoral College. The most serious national initiative to this end I've ever seen is underway here;
more on this later.
- Abolish machines that allow automatic straight-ticket voting. You want to vote straight Democrat, fine, but you have to push all the buttons/check all the boxes separately. This might make the act of voting a little less autonomic and force people to analyze their own inclinations just a little bit more critically.
- Have a voting week instead of a voting day. This makes it easier to get to the polls, and easier for the volunteers to count the votes. With early voting, we sort of already have it, but it's not thought of in this way. In future elections maybe we can make it more explicit (maybe on your ballot, it says, “EARLY voting location during last week of October X; Tuesday voting location Y.”)
- During the debates, have a multimedia backdrop run by an impartial third party (factcheck.org, League of Women Voters, etc.) Here's how it works. On TV the debate is delayed a few minutes. Volunteers at the debate listen for each statistic or assertion made by the candidates. Then, as you're watching at home, on a scrolling marquee, or in a word bubble above the candidate, the reference will pop up. This would be a great use of technology to limit BS in televised forums, where Americans still get most of our information. Credit for this one to Fernando who I met in line at the polls this morning.
A friend of mine lived in Oregon where there are no polls; essentially everyone votes absentee.. A few years ago I considered going permanent absentee and I even thought about trying to vote early here. But I didn't. Call me sentimental, but I like going in and voting.