My Approach on Ballot Initiatives

Arizona has pages of ballot initiatives (or propositions) up for vote on the ballot tomorrow.  Here is my approach to voting on these initiatives:

  • My default is a no vote on everything.  After all, most of these initiatives are regulations and tax increases that even the legislature, not shy about passing either, has not wanted to take on.   Having a default vote is very helpful - if I am unsure, if there is doubt, if I don't fully understand the issue, then it gets a "no".  Like "not guilty" in a criminal trial, its my default answer.
  • I then look for tax cuts and regulation relief.  There tends to be little of this.  We have one ballot initiative that looks like it will help keep property taxes under control, and one that does a nice job circumscribing eminent domain takings as well as regulating "soft" takings (changes to zoning or land use that make a property less valuable without compensation).  On these I will switch my vote to "yes".
  • I then look at bond issues.  A growing city like Phoenix needs facility expansions, and bond issues are a reasonable way to do so.  However, a lot of crap gets loaded in these.  Typically they will say the bond issue is "for schools" to get everyone to vote for it and then load a lot of garbage in it.  I believe California has some of this going on.  We have no bond issues up for vote in my district but we do have a proposition to increase the size limit of future bond issuances.  I am still thinking about this one, but if I can't get excited about it, it gets the default vote - "no".
  • I will then consider procedural changes in government, but with a heavy bias towards "no" due to the laws of unintended consequences.  I don't understand the procedural changes being suggested in two initiatives on public land use so I will vote no on both.  I will definitely vote no on the proposal to pay people to vote with a lotter ticket.  The proposal to effectively switch Arizona to all absentee balloting with virtually no polls is intriguing, but seems fraught with possibilities for unintended consequences (or secretly intended consequences I don't understand) so I will vote no there too.


  1. Mike:

    The Absentee ballot is a bad idea, and it's simply not needed. Anyone can sign up for an absentee ballot today anyway. My brother used to live with me. He has since moved to California, yet I still receive voter mail addressed to him. I've lived in my house for over 2 years, yet, I still get property valuations and tax assessments for my property addressed to the previous owner. This is odd considering that the county assessor is responsible for recording who owns what properties.

    So, seeing as the county can't keep track of who moves, and who owns a house, then how are they to ensure that I am not voting in my brother's place? How are they to ensure that I am still not getting the previous owner's ballot? If that happens, how is the previous owner to vote, if I get his ballot and he never gets his?

    Also, look who's supporting this initiative.

  2. Jay:

    IIRC the way Massachusetts finally got mandatory wearing of seatbelts - which had originally been passed by the legislature and removed through ballot initiative - passed was to put it as a ballot initiative in which no meant yes, and make sure enough people were confused for it to pass. Or perhaps it was vice-versa, but I do remember the phrasing was oddly inverted to make many people vote other than what they really meant.

  3. Anonymous:

    -Update about mandatory mail ballots:

    I just went to the polls and cast my votes, showing ID. My brother's name was right next to mine. Since I don't have his ID, I can't vote on his behalf. Good. He moved to California many months ago, and has since registered to vote in California.

    While I was filling in my ballot, a woman came in who had requested an early ballot. She never received it. She had to use a provisional ballot. What if we went to a mail only ballot? How would she vote, if she never received hers? I voted "no".