Updated Interactive Voter Resource Launches, Voters Tackle New Primary System & Consider Two Hotly Contested Ballot Initiatives

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(San Francisco) – California voters pulling out their absentee ballots over the next few days and heading to the polls June 5th will be confronted with an unfamiliar ballot, and two hotly contested ballot initiatives. The newly updated nonpartisan California Choices (www.californiachoices.org) can help guide voters through the process. The nonpartisan website features comprehensive information about the statewide June ballot initiatives including endorsements, polling data, pro and con arguments, video clips from supporters and opponents, recent press coverage, in-­‐ depth background information, and much more.

“Voters can use the nonpartisan facts about the initiatives presented at CaliforniaChoices.org to help make an informed decision and get past the commercials, mailings, signs, and other partisan materials with which they might feel bombarded,” said F. Noel Perry, businessman and founder of the nonpartisan nonprofit organization Next 10. California Choices is presented in partnership by Next 10, the Institute of Governmental Studies at University of California, Berkeley and the Department of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego.

In anticipation of the June 5th primary election, California Choices offers an in-­‐depth look at the two propositions up for a vote that are generating plenty of debate and more than a few TV commercials.

  • If adopted, Proposition 28 would change term limits for state lawmakers, cutting their possible time at the Capitol from 14 years to 12 years, while allowing lawmakers to spend all of those years in one house.
  • Proposition 29 would up the cigarette tax by one-­‐dollar per pack. Revenues would fund cancer research and tobacco prevention programs.

The popular and interactive “endorsements tool” at CaliforniaChoices.org allows users to see which statewide newspapers, nonprofits, unions and political parties endorse or reject these two ballot measures. Users can also share how they are planning to vote via email and Facebook with friends and family.

"California Choices is unique because we’re not trying to convince voters to cast their ballot one way or another. We are dedicated to providing information on politics and public policy so that voters feel confident in their decisions,” said Jack Citrin, Director of the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley. “We hope the research guides we develop for California Choices not only inform voters, but also encourage new voters to get involved in the process and get engaged in issues that are important to them.”

Also new this election: The California Choices website links to a step-­by-­step “Easy Voter Guide” from the League of Women Voters, to walk voters through a new and potentially confusing ballot. California has adopted a “top-­‐two” primary system, due to a voter-­‐approved ballot initiative in 2010 (Proposition 14). Instead of receiving a ballot that features only the candidates representing a given voter’s party, now all candidates running in a primary election for voter-­‐nominated offices appear on a single primary ballot. The two candidates who earn the most votes face off against each other in a general election in November.

“This new primary system is changing the way we send elected leaders to Sacramento and Washington,” said Thad Kousser, Associate Professor of Political Science at UC San Diego. “Democrats can cross over to vote for Republicans and vice versa. It will be interesting to see if this new primary system could be a game changer for the parties.”

If you are not quite sure how to vote, want to share how you are voting with others, or just want additional information, visit the newly updated California Choices (www.californiachoices.org).