by Bob Fung, CivEnergy
For Davis voters, we have 30 or 31 elections to decide this November 6th including: the Governor, one Senate seat, 11 State ballot measures, as well as 3 seats on the Davis school board and Davis Measure L (West Davis Active Adult Community).
So how should you decide your votes given the time you have? We recommend that as with standardized test taking (doesn’t a ballot look like a standardized test answer sheet?), you ought to survey your ballot first; decide which elections you want to spend time on because they are important or interesting to you in some way; and then decide the rest more quickly. For example, Proposition 10 deals with rent control, so if you are a renter or landlord, perhaps you will want to spend time analyzing this proposition.
Ways to decide your vote quickly
Skip voting on some elections on the ballot: If there are some elections on the ballot you don’t know anything about or you aren’t interested in, skip voting on them. Of course, we are not suggesting not to vote, just not to vote if you don’t have the time or interest to vote on specific elections.
Use Endorsements: For the California elections, political parties, newspapers, and many organizations have produced endorsements. We have developed a summary of those endorsements (table) for the statewide elections. If there are one or two organizations you are a member of (e.g., most voters belong to a political party) and have trust in, use their endorsements to vote.
Accept the judgement of somebody you trust If you are lucky enough to have a spouse, family member or friend who is a political junkie, they can just tell you what their recommendations are and you are set! Or they can explain quickly who/what you should vote for depending on what issues are important to you. Fast and convenient if you know that certain someone.
If you have more time to spend researching your vote for an election, there are a number of ways to gather information. Here are a few important information sources:
Official Voter Information Guide: Almost everybody (we think) gets one of these in the mail. If you didn’t get one or can’t find yours, you can find it at this webpage.
Campaign Advertisements and Websites: Like it or not, you will be seeing and hearing campaign advertisements in the newspaper, on the internet, in your social media feeds etc. Campaigns are trying to persuade you with their arguments to vote their way. Listen to what they say but with a critical ear. Also, campaigns often try to sway you with emotional appeals. These emotional appeals can be genuine but can also be misleading and need to be considered carefully.
Newspapers, News Websites, and Blogs: The Davis Enterprise is our local paper. The Davis Vanguard is a non-profit, community-based watchdog and news reporting organization. Davisite is a relatively new multi-authored blog which has content about Davis elections.
Nonpartisan Voter Information Sources: There are several reliable nonpartisan voter information sources which try to give a balanced view of the alternatives. Here are a few of the sources we like: Ballotpedia, Smartvoter, CalMatters Election Coverage, KQED election coverage, KQED Forum Podcast. For local elections there is Davis Media Access Meet the Candidates videos and content at CivEnergy.
Once you gather information on an election, consider the pros and cons for the election alternatives (i.e., the candidates for elections) and make a decision. We think that organizing campaign literature and other written material and that keeping notes in a notebook or with an electronic document could make the process of weighing pros and cons easier.
We recommend for this November’s ballot that you go through your ballot deciding which elections you are going to decide quickly and on which ones you are going to gather more information. Often some of the information you want to make use of will come from using the quick methods. For example, you might want to weigh a political party’s endorsement along with information you gather in an article in the paper.
Decide some of the elections using one of the quick methods. Gather information on the others, weigh the pros and cons, decide and then you are ready to mark your mail-in ballot or go to the polls on November 6. Good luck! And above all — Vote!
Thanks to everybody who read drafts of this and made contributions!
CivEnergy (www.civenergy.org) is a non-partisan, not-for-profit experiment in democracy. Our goal is to help voters make informed voting decisions. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Voters in West and parts of Central Davis have a Yolo County Board of Education election their ballot which other Davis voters don’t.