Every Single State and Local Ballot Measure, Explained – in Haiku!

By now, you should have gotten your official state voter guide in the mail, although perhaps you mistook it for a phone book. The 224-page tome weighs more than 10 ounces — a record, according to the Sacramento Bee's Jeremy B. White, and it covers the pros and cons of a dizzying 17 statewide ballot measures, including condoms in porn, marijuana legalization and a cigarette tax. 

And that doesn't even cover the city and countywide initiatives, of which Los Angeles has six — plus a community college district measure.

What's an aspiringly informed voter to do?

Well, Damian Carroll has you covered. He's written 24 haikus summarizing each state and local ballot measure. To wit:

Proposition 64
Legalizes pot!
Also raises some tax funds
(Perhaps a billion?)

"I think that the proposition system is one that's highly flawed," Carroll says. "You’re asking voters to take in a huge amount of information and vote on really pressing issues. And often with misleading campaign ads as the most obvious source of information."

Carroll grew up in Clovis, a small city outside Fresno in the Central Valley. He's worked as a staffer for a number of local politicians, including Mike Feuer and Paul Kerkorian.  He's now the national director of Vision to Learn, a nonprofit, founded by Austin Beutner, that give kids free eye tests and glasses — though the ballot measure haikus are the work of Carroll, on his own time. 

"I thought writing them as haikus that would be shareable on social media would be a great way to get voters interested, and then hopefully seek out more information on their own," Carroll says.

There's a decent summary of every statewide ballot measure online, at the secretary of state's website. But Carroll was surprised at how hard it was to find good information on L.A.'s local initiatives. 

"Most of the city measures, I couldn’t even find the text for them online, much less an analysis and summary," he says. "You would think that the city would want to make it easier for people to read the text of these measures."

But who needs the full text of the measure when we have Carroll's haikus? (Just kidding, you should definitely read up a bit before you vote. If you want to.)

Here's every ballot measure haiku, for your voter informational pleasure, starting with the statewide initiatives:

Proposition 51
Nine billion dollars
Of bond funds for school buildings
Term: thirty-five years

Proposition 52
A hospital fee
Matched with federal dollars
Funds Medi-Cal boost

Proposition 53
Bonds for big projects
(Like high speed rail and Delta)
Would need people’s vote

Proposition 54
Bills must be posted
On the web, for three days straight
Before they are passed

Proposition 55
For high-earning folks
An income tax that funds schools
Would remain in place

Proposition 56
The cigarette tax
Would go up, two bucks a pack
E-cigarettes, too

Proposition 57
Earlier parole
Of prisoners serving time
For non-violent crimes

Proposition 58
Kids learning English
Won’t need a waiver to take
Bilingual classes

Proposition 59
Asks to overturn
Citizens United, but
Shucks, it’s non-binding

Proposition 60
Adult film makers
Would have to require condoms
Or risk a lawsuit

Proposition 61
In theory, lowers
The cost of some state-bought drugs
(But it could backfire)

Proposition 62
Vote for this one if         
You want to eliminate
The death penalty

Proposition 66
If you want the state
To execute more people
This one is for you

Proposition 63
Requires a permit
Issued by the DOJ
To purchase ammo

Proposition 64
Legalizes pot!
Also raises some tax funds
(Perhaps a billion?)

Proposition 65
Plastic bag makers
Put this one on the ballot
To punish grocers

Proposition 67
To ban plastic bags
Vote “yes” on 67
“No” on 65

The two L.A. County ballot measures:

Measure A
Modest parcel tax
Maintains parks and rec centers
Rivers and beaches

Measure M
A half-cent sales tax
Funds transit infrastructure

And the City of L.A. ballot measures:

Measure HHH
One point two billion
In bond funding will provide
Safe homeless housing

Measure JJJ
Building in L.A.?
Add affordable units
And hire locally

Measure RRR
Gives greater power
To DWP's Board
To hire and set rates

Measure SSS
Lets airport police
Into the same pension plan

And lastly, the sole L.A. Community College District ballot measure:

Measure CC
Three point three billion
For community college
Repairs and upgrades

Not only are you now better informed but you just read a ton of poetry!

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