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How To Have (A Little) Fun With The November Ballot

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October 31, 2016 4:41 p.m.

How To Have (A Little) Fun With The November Ballot


Kim Alexander, founder/president, California Voter Foundation

Related Story: 5 Ways To Have (A Little) Fun With The November Ballot


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

Looking at the long list of 17 statewide ballot propositions you might feel overwhelmed. And you feel sad and blue, you know the best thing to do is burst into song.
[ MUSIC ] we are having an election there's 17 propositions pop 51's the first one 9 billion in school bonds.
L Medi-Cal matching funds pop 53 requires should the state what revenue bonds.
If we pass prop 54 the public gets to see a legislative meetings with more bill transparency.
In 2012 the voters passed prop 30 which requires a state income tax increase that's ready to expire.
That's the ballot song composed by Kim Alexander, President and founder of the California voter foundation. It's just one of the voter resources the foundation provides and one of the bursts of artistic whimsy this very long ballot has inspired. I spoke with her earlier today.
In the dusty city of add to want to, Johnny Bob Woodward Junior is standing in front of a chain-link fence surrounding a vacant lot. He's giving me a tour of what's called the Green zone, the industrial area where he allows medical marijuana cultivation.
[ MUSIC ] we are having an election, there are 17 propositions come vote and have your say.
We've had a little bit of technical difficulty here. We hope to be hearing from Kim Alexander explaining her ballot song.

Cam, you managed to squeeze all propositions into your ballot song, how long is the ballot song?
The proposition song including the credits clocks out at over five minutes. It is the longest one that we produced so far. For five minutes, you get to learn about all 17 propositions. I think it's a good deal for voters.
What inspired you?
I wrote the first proposition song back in 2000 and the primary we had 20 propositions on the ballot. I was talking with a friend about how difficult for voters it is to sort out which proposition was about which docket and I thought we could use a jingle or a song. That's how the idea came to be. I grew up watching Schoolhouse Rock on TV on Saturday mornings. My generation learned a lot about civics and math and grammar through those informational and entertaining videos that we watched. The proposition song is inspired by that.
In the YouTube video, it looks like you and your musician friends have serenaded a number of audiences with this song. What kind of venues have you played?
We play the old Ironsides the longest-running music establishment in Sacramento and they've been very supportive of this project. We have a couple of other breweries in Sacramento where we have regular jams. Everywhere I go including music festivals, I've incorporated the song.
Tell us more about the voter foundation.
I started this nonprofit 22 years ago and we work to improve the voting process to improve awareness. California is a powerful state when it comes to elections. In our propositions we have a lot of power and influence, not just to change policy within our state, but and influence on the nation and the world and the decisions that we make. I think it's important for voters to have access to the information they need to vote with confidence and thanks to the Internet we are able to provide that information. I know this election in particular, can feel really overwhelming to voters with how many measures there are on the ballot. There are so many measures on this ballot and they are about such important topics that people care deeply about. There's a lot of stress that voters are experiencing this election in particular, conflicting those confronting those decisions. I hope the song makes the process easier and more entertaining and helps them walk away from the process of preparing to vote with a sense of confidence.
It's not just the number of propositions on the ballot, it's the fact that some are conflicted. Some are the opposite of one another. That's what makes this song so long.
Yes. I thought it was important to take the time even though it made the song longer to provide some background about the measures, particularly that some of these measures are amending or extending initiatives that voters previously approved. You have to tell them about what was passed before to explain the significance of the measure this time around. There are for measures on the ballot that are dealing with the same topics, to dealing with the death penalty in two dealing with plastic bag bans. In the song, we wrote about them in a way that helps voters are those out too.
The voter foundation has published five tips for California voters. The first one is very important to remember. You don't have to vote on everything do you?
No. Voting is not a test. You would be surprised to think, new people think you do have to vote on everything. Even though people are regular voters in consider themselves informed, they read the news. They don't know this and it's not surprising. It's not something I think is very well advertised. Ideally, I would like to see the choice for every proposition to stay -- say skip this contest, so voters know that it's fine to leave a choice point.
I've been speaking with Kim Alexander of the California voter foundation. Thank you, very much.