Being a conscientious, informed voter asks a lot of a California voter. But Sara Alexander was determined so she sat down with her ballot and dug in.
It all began as a trickle of mailers: The “Hi! You will soon get your ballot” postcard, followed by the California General Election Official Voter Information Guide, 128 pages. Then, as fat as a phone book, 256 pages of the San Francisco Department of Elections Voter Information Pamphlet. On its cover: “Don’t Delay: Vote Today”—which I ignored.
Until last week, determined to be a responsible voter, when I opened my ballot to discover 10 pages of decisions waiting for me. At first, I was optimistic. I had in hand “Paul’s Proposition Analysis”, by a brilliant avocado farmer who once worked as a consultant in D.C. He exhaustively researched every state proposition; what they seem to be, and who is really behind them. I voted with a calm heart and clear conscience and then discovered that was a mere 10% of my ballot.
Five days later, I was still at it: The four candidates for D.A? The 13 for Community College Board? The Board of Education? 14 local propositions? I studied, I googled. Some choices became clear and many never did.
“Can you help?,” I emailed friends, begging for hunches, suggestions, pointers, even tirades. And they arrived: names for obscure positions, opinions on propositions. A few had done serious research. One offered a “larger perspective” suggesting that, “None of the D.A. candidates could fix the terrible problems of our city.”
Most offered empathy, and many were, like me, perplexed and confused.
How frightening to discover how little I really knew of what I needed to know, and even more frightening to imagine how many others lack the time or inclination to educate themselves.
Eventually, I headed to the recycle bin, and as I gleefully tossed out my papers I noticed a bright sticker that said: “Your Vote Is Your Voice. Make It Heard.”
Well...at least I tried.
With a Perspective, this is Sara Alexander.
Sara Alexander is a psychotherapist, writer and filmmaker who lives in San Francisco.