What election?” said Ann Wallace, junior art major, when asked if she will vote in California’s special election on Tuesday.
Jason Fieldman, senior music major, said he knew there was an election, but did not know anything about the propositions on the ballot.
“I only vote in presidential elections,” said Fieldman with a shrug. “I don’t think propositions are that important.
Ethan Rarick, acting director of the Center on Politics at the University of California, Berkeley, said it is a sad fact that many young voters are unaware of the importance of the propositions that will be voted on in the election.
He said all the propositions could dramatically affect the lives of California university students.
“Sure the abortion proposition (Proposition 73) only effects kids under 17,” Rarick said. “But it could make a big difference in the battle over abortion whichever way you believe in it. It could have a big impact on the lives of women.”
If Proposition 73 passes, it would bar abortions for women younger than 18 years old and until 48 hours after her physician notifies a parent or guardian except in medical emergency, according to the California official voter information guide.
Rarick said Proposition 76, which would limit state spending to the prior year’s budget including three previous years average revenue growth and allow the governor to make midyear budget cuts during fiscal crises, could also drastically affect the lives of university students.
“Over time, this proposition would reduce spending on education and possibly reduce spending on higher education, health programs, and there would be fewer services available,” Rarick said.
Sarah Pompei, California Republican Party spokesperson, disagreed, and said she believes that even if some of the propositions might be painful, they are necessary to help reform the “mess that California is in.”
“The state government is terribly in debt and the Legislature won’t live within its means,” Pompeii said. “Prop. 76 will make the state balance its books. Prop. 77 would take the politics out of redistricting. Do we really want to stay with the status quo?”
Proposition 77 would shift redistricting powers from the Legislature to a three-member panel of judges. According to the California official voter information guide, the judges would be selected by legislative leaders.
Polls indicate that likely California voters oppose three of the four ballot measures supported by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger: propositions 74, 75, 76 and 77. Proposition 74, which if passed would increase the probationary period for public school teachers from two to five years and make it easier to fire teachers, is too close to call.
According to a Los Angeles Times poll of 1,405 registered voters, 940 of which were deemed likely to vote in the Nov. 8 election, “no” voters outnumbered the “yes” voters 47 to 45 percent, with a three percent margin of error.
Proposition 75 would require public employee unions to get each members permission to spend dues on political campaigns. No voters outnumber supporters 51 to 40 percent in the L.A. Times poll.
On Proposition 76, the state spending cap initiative, supporters are outnumbered nearly two to one, 60 to 31 percent.
On Proposition 77, the redistricting initiative, no voters lead polling 56 to 34 percent, according to the Times poll.
Support for both of the prescription drug discount Propositions 78 and 79, declined, according to a Nov. 2 field poll.
Proposition 73, the parental notification abortion initiative, is lagging with opponents outnumbering supporters by a 49 to 41 percent margin in a field poll released Nov. 2.
The same field poll found that Proposition 78 opponents now outnumber supporters by a 45 to 36 percent margin. Of the possible voters, 19 percent are undecided. The poll indicates that for Proposition 79, no voters lead 43 percent to 37 percent, with 20 percent undecided.
Proposition 78 would enable certain low and moderate income California residents to purchase prescription drugs at reduced prices, according to the California Online Voter Guide.
Proposition 79 provides prescription drug discounts to Californians who qualify based on income-related standards to be funded through rebates from participating drug manufacturers negotiated by California Department of Health Services.
Proposition 78 is supported by pharmaceutical companies, and Proposition 79 is supported and sponsored by consumer advocacy and labor groups, according to the field poll.
Bob Mulholland, a California State Democratic party consultant, said he believes the election will be a referendum on Schwarzenegger.
“Nix the first six and vote for 79 is my advice,” Mulholland said. “All these propositions are vindictive and are about helping the corporations and people with lots of money.”
Mulholland said the Nov. 8 election was about one thing and that the election will ruin the chances of the first six propositions passing.
“This election is about Schwarzenegger and his efforts to dispossess the people,” Mulholland said. “The people see thru him and they reject Schwarzenegger and his propositions will go down in flames.”
Propositions are initiatives that are placed on the ballot when signatures gathered equal to at least 5 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the last gubernatorial election.
Mulholland said he is disgusted that young people of all political persuasions turn out to vote in such small numbers.
“We are supposedly fighting a war to fight terrorism and let people in Iraq vote,” said Mulholland, his voice full of emotion. “People risk their life to vote there and college students can’t get off their ass to take a few minutes to vote. It’s absolutely ridiculous.”
Robert McDonald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.