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

By placing parties' initiative endorsements directly on the ballot, this proposal would allow party labels to serve the same unique function in direct democracy that they have long served in representative democracy: clarifying ballot choices. Voters who identify as Libertarians, for example, could feel safe voting for propositions 1 and 19 on the sample ballot above, knowing the Libertarian Party would only endorse initiatives that were consistent with its principals. A party's decision not to endorse an initiative would also provide cues to all voters about the nature of the proposal. For example, because voters would know any initiative endorsed by the Green Party would be consistent with the party's pro-environment platform, they would think twice about supporting a proposal that claimed to be environmentally friendly but was not endorsed by the Greens. (This would make it much harder for sponsors who could not secure any party's endorsement to rely on deceptive advertising.) Research shows that when voters can correctly identify those backing initiatives, they can make competent decisions despite lacking detailed knowledge of the measures' content.

In 1988, five separate initiatives claiming to reform California's auto insurance industry qualified for the same ballot. Three of these were actually proposed by the insurance industry itself in an attempt to limit reform by confusing voters. An exit poll revealed that when voters unfamiliar with the initiatives' content could correctly identify the proposals backed by the insurance industry, they cast essentially the same votes as well-informed voters:

The only difference between uninformed voters who cast competent votes and those who did not was that the former knew who was backing the initiatives. If the ballot clearly revealed who was backing each endorsed initiative, this information disparity among voters would disappear, and all voters could make competent decisions. Following the advice of an informed endorser who shares their policy preferences – or voting against an endorser with opposing interests – enables uninformed voters to cast the same vote they would have cast if they had thoroughly studied the proposal themselves (Lupia 1994).[2]

 

 



[2] Reliance on information shortcuts is not limited to voters: "Propositions are often long and complicated, and surveys show that most citizens don't read them in detail. Instead, voters rely on what political scientists call 'information cues' – advice from sources they trust, including family and friends, the media and political leaders. This might seem like cheating, but it's really no different than what legislators do. Last year, the [California] Legislature sent the governor about 1,200 bills. You can be sure most lawmakers didn't read much of what they voted on, but instead relied on advice from sources they trust" (Matsusaka 2005).