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Know the measures before you vote

October 07, 2010

As the campaign season gets into full swing, the League of Women Voters would like to urge voters to step back from the ads and hype and look carefully at the measures on your ballot. Here are some good tips to use when deciding how you might vote on each measure.

• Examine what the measure seeks to accomplish. Do you agree with those goals? Is the measure seeking changes that are consistent with your ideas about government? Do you think the proposed changes will make things better?

Who are the real sponsors and opponents of the measure? Find where the money is coming from by using the League of Women Voters guide to tracking contributions: http://www.cavotes.org/issues/campaign-financing-and-dislosure

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Is the measure written well? Will it create conflicts in law that may require court resolution or interpretation? Is it "good government," or will it cause more problems than it will resolve?

Does the measure create its own revenue source? Does it earmark, restrict or obligate government revenues? If so, weigh the benefit of securing funding for the measure's program against the cost of reducing overall flexibility in the budget.

Does the measure mandate a government program or service without addressing how it will be funded?

Does the measure deal with one issue that can be easily decided by a "yes" or "no" vote? Or, is it a complex issue that should be thoroughly examined in the legislative arena?

If the measure amends the Constitution, consider whether it really belongs in the Constitution. Would a statute accomplish the same purpose? Remember that all constitutional amendments require voter approval. What we put into the Constitution would have to come back to the ballot to be changed.

Be wary of distortion tactics and commercials that rely on image but tell nothing of substance about the measure. Beware of half truths.

And if you're looking for good non-partisan information on the ballot measures, visit the LWV of California Education Fund website http://www.cavotes.org/vote/ballot-measures for a clear, non-technical discussion of what you'll be voting on this November.

Chris Carson and Joan Hardie

League of Women Voters Glendale/Burbank

Editor's note: Carson and Hardie are co-presidents of the league.

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