Introduction
1st Proposal:
Endorsements
Helping Voters
Uniting Budget
2nd Proposal:
MDD Proposal
MDD Timeline
Multipartyism
Reforming DD
Partisan Cues
References
 

The initiative process can be very demanding of voters' time and energy. Ballot measures can cover complicated areas of public policy that may be difficult for even the most educated voters to understand. Voters must actively seek out reliable information, while deceptive advertising pours out of their television, radio, and mailbox.[1] Those who feel inadequately informed must decide whether to abstain from voting or risk mistakenly voting against their own interests. The information demands placed on voters by direct democracy increase with each additional proposal they must consider, and voters have expressed frustration with long ballots. Including parties' initiative endorsements on the ballot would significantly reduce this burden.

Political parties serve a unique informational role in democracy. Voters know each party represents a set of principles and policy preferences, as outlined in its platform. Voters are accustomed to seeing candidates' party affiliations included on the ballot. Even if candidates' names may be unfamiliar, their party affiliations provide voters with a wealth of information about the type of legislation they would support if elected. Rather than spending countless hours attempting to find all the available information on candidates, voters can feel safe supporting those who share their party affiliation, knowing these candidates also share their principles and policy preferences. In this role, party labels act as information shortcuts, drastically reducing the time and effort required of voters to make competent decisions. Unfortunately, voters are not provided similar shortcuts on the ballot when considering initiatives.

I recommend that states include political parties' initiative endorsements on the ballot. Prior to the printing of the ballot pamphlet, ballot-qualified parties' state central committees could submit their endorsements to the Secretary of State. Parties' names would then be listed in the pamphlet and on the ballot, in alphabetical order, alongside the measures they support. For example:

Proposition 1

Lower Sales Tax
The Libertarian and Republican parties endorse this initiative.

Proposition 5

Clean Energy Initiative
The Democratic, Green, and Peace & Freedom parties endorse this initiative.

Proposition 14

Top Two Primary
No parties endorse this initiative.

Proposition 19

Marijuana Legalization
The Green, Libertarian, and Peace & Freedom parties endorse this initiative.

 

 

 



[1] While parties send out slate mailers informing members of their endorsements, voters often also receive mailers designed to mislead them into believing a party has endorsed a campaign it has not (Center for Governmental Studies 2008).