The Life of a Ballot Proposition: How It Works
Have you ever felt like your interests weren't being represented by the state's legislature the way you want them to be? Have you ever thought that there could be a more direct way for you to create a change in the way things are run, or in the amount of resources a certain sector of the government has?
Well my friend there is: it's called an initiative. If your initiative is popular and enough people like it, then you can have it placed on the ballot for Election Day as a proposition. Then everyone gets to vote on it and with a little bit of luck, a whole lot of apathy and a misleading title, even the most asinine ideas can become a state law. According to the California Elections Code, it's easy!
The first step is simple - just send a draft of the law you want passed to the attorney general along with $200 and ask that a title and summary are made. The attorney general will then do your bidding and send a copy of the summary right over to the secretary of state.
If you thought that was easy, then you should have no problem with the second step. Simply walk around the town and gather signatures from a few hundred thousand of your closest friends who happen to be registered to vote. That's 433,971 if you want to propose a new initiative or 694,354 if you want to amend the state constitution. This is especially easy if you know someone like Tila Tequila or Tom from Myspace. Better yet, you can get the help of religious extremists by convincing them that they will go to some kind of hell if they don't sign or you can tell people they are entering to win a free television. If those methods don't work, you're probably going to wind up doing the traditional thing and standing in front of the local Albertson's trying to get someone with their arms full of groceries to make their mark on your clipboard.
Now you've submitted your idea and solicited it all over town gathering just enough names from people who are registered to vote and you are asking yourself what comes next. Well the elections official will simply take your petition along with the list of signatures that you have gotten and do a quick and easy run-through of the names, randomly picking a few here and there to verify that they are real people and that you didn't try to fluff your numbers with dead relatives or anything like that.
Once that little formality is over with, it is time for the people to vote. If you are lucky enough to have proposed your initiative within 131 days of the next election then you are going on the ballot. A legislative analyst will go over the literature of your proposal and write an impartial analysis of it for the ballot. In addition to that, it will be time for you to write an argument for your initiative. Of course, this means that people who do not agree with what you are trying to accomplish will get their fair chance to write an argument opposing yours, but maybe no one will care because your idea is flawless.
As if things haven't gotten crazy enough for you, now comes the time for campaigning. You still have a lot of people to convince that your way of thinking is correct and the best way to reach the masses is right in their own home. So just rent some ad space during the primetime weekday lineup. It's only a few million dollars anyway, and that will still leave you enough for some radio time, a few park benches, a bus ad or two and an army of signs for people to jam into their lawns.
So the next time you feel like something should be changed, just rally a few hundred thousand of your friends and take a cool couple million out at the ATM. It's your government - make it work for you.