Call it a dream for California political consultants, a nightmare for voters or an electoral extravaganza: The November 2016 ballot could feature a bigger crop of statewide propositions than at any time in the past decade. “The voters pamphlet is going to look like the Encyclopaedia Brittanica,” said Steve Maviglio, a Democratic campaign strategist. The list of measures is very much a work in progress. Most campaigns are still gathering voter signatures or waiting for their proposals to be vetted by state officials. But political strategists have identified at least 15 — perhaps as many as 19 –measures that all have a shot at going before voters next fall. The last time California’s ballot was that long was in November 2004, when there were 16 propositions. The March 2000 ballot had 20.
A number of political forces help explain why so many are lined up now. For starters, there’s the 2011 law that moved everything but measures written by the Legislature to the general election ballot. As a result, June primary ballots are now almost barren of contentious campaigns.
There is also a lingering hangover from the state’s record-low voter turnout in 2014: a new and extremely low number of voter signatures needed to qualify an initiative for the ballot. “There’s no real obstacle this time,” said Beth Miller, a Republican campaign consultant.