Next Tuesday, Nov.6, voters nationwide will decide whether they want to reelect President Barack Obama to another term or turn the keys to the White House over to his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney. In California, voters are also faced with 11 statewide measures dealing with everything from increasing taxes to changing how the state punishes criminals, labels foods, and how state legislators do their jobs.
Political campaigns are spending billions trying to inform voters about their candidate or their side of an issue, yet last week when EGP did an informal canvass of local residents on how they will vote, many voters said they knew little about the ballot measures they will be voting on in just a few days.
Voter apathy or disenchantment with the political process could keep many people from voting next week, people like Montebello resident Louis Frau who says he doesn’t trust either presidential candidate.
“There’s lots of issues that concern me but it makes no sense to even mention them because they [politicians] don’t listen. They do their thing and they forget about the rest,” he told EGP, adding, “They should stay away from wars and spend the money here.”
Frau says some people are talking about the election, but “if you’re like me, they won’t vote.”
“In California they have some nice propositions that I believe are good for the people and I hope people vote for them…like Proposition 36,” he said, referring to the measure to revamp the three strikes law to only impose a life sentence when the third felony conviction is for a serious or violent crime.
Bell Gardens resident Jesus Ramirez won’t be voting Tuesday because he is not a US citizen. Nonetheless, he’s been watching the commercials on the different propositions but says he’s still not really well informed. Immigration is his top priority, besides the economy, and he says as long as the presidential candidates “don’t do anything against immigrants, its good enough.”
Like Ramirez, several Boyle Heights residents told EGP they are eager to be able to participate in the democratic process, but cannot vote because they are not yet citizens.
Whittier resident Nicole Reyes, 39, was visiting Eagle Rock last week and told EGP she is voting for Obama. “I think he’s the best candidate for the country and I just don’t believe in the Republican platform at all… I’m a life-long Democrat,” she said. California’s large Democratic voting block has led many election strategists to see an Obama victory as a forgone conclusion.
Miriam Lopez says immigration and the economy are her top issues right now. “We all want to be fine but sometimes it’s not easy to find a solution overnight,” said the Bell Gardens resident in Spanish. “Lets hope the best man wins and that everything will improve.”
Mihael Yehudi of Monterey Park says the economy and unemployment are the biggest issues facing the country. He is also concerned about the money being spent on the wars.
He told EGP he’s doesn’t know much about the ballot propositions, but did say “I’m against the death penalty,” referring to Prop 34 which if passed would eliminate California’s death penalty, replacing it with a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
East Los Angeles student Adrian Lopez says he is concerned about the national health care reform.
“I’m really interested in seeing how the funding will be allocated because I know Mitt Romney wants everything to become state-regulated, but right now our state is bankrupt,” he said. “I just want to make sure that there is a plan set up for California and we’re not in a financial crisis throughout the next four years,” he said.
Though he is concerned about public education, Lopez admits he has not looked closely at the two propositions that purport to fund schools: Prop 30 that increases the state sales tax a quarter cent and the income tax rate paid by the state’s highest income earners, and Prop 38, which would increase the income tax rate for most Californians based on a sliding scale.
“I have my family trying to tell me more and more but right now I know more about the presidential candidacy,” he said.
Former Montebello resident Virginia Acosta says she’s still working on reading all the measures but she feels the presidential election is more important anyway.
“I know for the schools I’m going to vote yes on 30…I volunteer here at the schools and I see how there is less and less money for schools every year and I don’t understand why they continue to take from the schools, that kinda concerns me… there’s not enough funding…I know this because it affects my son,” she said.
Echo Park resident Ernesto Lopez, 28, was visiting Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights on Sunday. He said he will be voting yes on Prop 30 but no on Prop. 38.
Most of the voters EGP talked to said Obama has their vote.
Hiyde Gomez a resident of Highland Park said the poor economy was not caused during Obama’s presidency: “Obama is the right choice, he hasn’t been a bad president, he inherited the country in bad shape,” said Gomez, speaking in Spanish. “He needs another chance to advance all he has worked toward.”
Antonio Lopez of Glassell Park was also visiting Boyle Heights and like Gomez, he too thinks the president needs more time.
“He is well-informed and is the most experienced candidate,” Lopez said in Spanish. “Its impossible to bring back the economy to the way it was before in just four years.”
Here are a few more of the comments made to EGP by Nicole Reyes of Whittier, Sandra Espinoza of Highland Park, Hiyde Gomez of Highland Park, Ernesto Lopez of Echo Park and Antonio Lopez of Glassell Park.
Prop 30: Increases taxes on earnings over $250,000 for seven years and sales tax by ¼ cent for four years.
Hiyde: I think its good. They should increase the taxes of the wealthy not the poor.
Prop 32: Prohibits unions and corporations from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes.
Nicole: No. Some campaign contributors are exempted. Taking out unions, PACS—it doesn’t do anything for political reform.
Prop 33: Changes current law to allow insurance companies to set prices based on whether a driver has had a lapse in their insurance coverage.
Hiyde: No, because we work hard enough to get insurance and its already expensive enough.
Ernesto: Yes. It doesn’t really affect me negatively or the state. Helps reinforce insurance laws. I don’t see it as bad.
Prop 34: Repeals death penalty and replaces it with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Directs $100 million to law enforcement agencies for investigations of homicide and rape cases.
Antonio: Its controversial. When someone kills someone, I don’t think we should take their life as well, but when they are in prison we are supporting them.
Prop 35: Increases prison sentences and fines for human trafficking convictions. Requires convicted human traffickers to register as sex offenders.
Hiyde: No if it includes crossing undocumented immigrants – yes if it’s only for sexual related human trafficking.
Prop 36: Revises law to impose life sentences only when new felony conviction is serious or violent.
Ernesto: Yes. I agree with the three strikes law but if the third strike is not a serious felony, they shouldn’t get life imprisonment.
Antonio: Yes. It would be good because some laws are not fair. There are innocent people that need another opportunity.
Prop 37: Requires labeling some food sold to consumers made from plants and animals with genetic material changed in specific ways. Prohibits marketing such food, or other processed food, as “natural.”
Nicole: I think it’s a good thing. I don’t’ know why, but some things are not required. I heard on a news program that Soy Milk needs to be labeled but not cow’s milk. I think they should have full disclosure across the board.
Sandra: Yes. They should put it on food, I think that’s why a lot of people get sick.
Prop 40: New State Senate districts to be drawn by the Citizen’s Redistricting Commission. If rejected, districts will be adjusted by officials supervised by the California Supreme Court.
Nicole: I think it’s bad. I think it’s going to be harmful to lower-income minority communities. I need to do more research but I’m leaning toward ‘no’.
Measure B in city of L.A.: would require porn actors to wear condoms.
Espinoza: Yes, with all the diseases we need to protect the actors and others should follow their example.
Nicole: Yes, I think it would be good for the industry.
Measure J: seeks to extend for another 30 years a one-half cent sales tax already being paid by consumers in Los Angeles County to accelerate county transportation projects funded under the voter-approved Measure R, which will expire in 2039.
Hiyde: You can’t do anything to fight traffic but trains are good.
Antonio: More than anything we need more light rails.
Ernesto: We need more public transportation. I follow the Metro blog, new light rail lines, bus lines. I’m a big user of public transportation and if we can get it quicker, I’m all for it. If we can get it a little faster, people will use it… Not just [the construction of a new route] a few miles a year.