The Nov. 6 election will offer voters in California yet another slate of ballot measures from which to choose, and trying to read the text of each measure can present a daunting challenge to anyone not versed in the perversity of legalese. On the other hand, 30-second ads for or against a particular measure is hardly the best way to understand what is being voted on.
To help California voters navigate through the storm of political ads and the 143-page Official Voter Information Guide from the Secretary of State, a nonpartisan website, California Choices, is offering a one-stop source of information about the state propositions, along with an endorsements table showing where non-profits, newspapers, unions and political parties stand on each one.
"The initiative is to provide nonpartisan information for voters to help them make up their minds on the propositions," said Nick Robinson, director of the library at UC Berkeley's Institute of Governmental Studies, which co-sponsors California Choices along with UC San Diego's Department of Political Science and Next 10, an independent nonpartisan organization founded by venture capitalist and philanthropist F. Noel Perry.
California Choices is not the only online source of nonpartisan information. Other websites – including the League of Women Voters' Smart Voter, KQED and Ballotpedia – offer unbiased guides to the state propositions. Some focus on a particular element, such as the indepth campaign spending information from Maplight.org.
One thing that sets California Choices apart is its extensive table of endorsements, which includes both supporters and opponents for each measure, including newspaper editorial positions.
"The most popular thing is the table of endorsements," Robinson said. "It's one thing we do that I think no one else is doing."
Ballotpedia also notes some supporters and opponents, though its lists appear to be less comprehensive.
In addition to the endorsements and basic information about each proposition, California Choices also provides links to sources of campaign spending, the latest polls on each one and coverage in the news media.
California Choices has information also about state ballot measures from three earlier state elections: this past June's primary and the June and November elections in 2010.