Could This New Democratic Tool Make Californians Vote Smarter?

The Digital Deliberative Poll May Encourage the Public to Learn More About Their Ballots

Californians vote on many ballot measures, but we almost never participate in significant public debates and discussions about the measures’ contents and impacts.

This isn’t simply a result of apathy or poor civic education. Rather, it’s an example of “rational ignorance,” a term coined by the late Stanford-educated economist Anthony Downs in his 1957 book, An Economic Theory of Democracy. The term defines this democratic reality: since you have just one vote out of millions, your individual vote doesn’t really matter. So, it’s rational to remain ignorant about the details of …

Arnold Schwarzenegger, right, dressed in a suit, stares intensely at a robot, left, from the Terminator movies.

In California Politics, You Must Find Your Inner Terminator

Your Winning Initiative Requires More Sequels Than Governor Schwarzenegger’s Movies

Running for office in California is a tough job, but ultimately temporary. The election happens, you win or you lose, and life goes on.

But sponsoring a ballot initiative is forever.

That …

Here’s Your California Democracy. Would You Like Fries With That?

My Trip to a Wendy's in Colton Shows Why the Golden State Treats Law-Making Like Fast Food

One recent Sunday night, I stopped by a Wendy’s in Colton, a gritty San Bernardino County logistics crossroads (pop. 52,000) best known as home to one of America’s oldest and …

Why Hand Counting Votes Makes Every Vote Count

From Maine to Alaska, Manual Tallies Bring Trust and Transparency to Nerve-Racking Elections

Just before the polls closed on election night, I met with 12 of my townspeople at our town hall in Maine, raised my right hand, and took an oath to …

It Takes More Than a Naked Katy Perry to Get Out the Vote

Ranking Candidates Gives People What They Want: a Choice, a Party, and Tighter Elections

Katy Perry’s new Rock the Vote video offers a great strategy for encouraging engagement in democracy—prurient interest. She tries to vote naked, and ends up being arrested and taken away. …