Kim Alexander: Web sites, house parties help voters get ready for Nov. 8

We are less than a week away from California’s statewide special election.
We’ve got eight statewide initiatives on the ballot. Are you ready to vote?
Are your friends ready? Your family? Co-workers?

The airwaves are filled with talk and commercials about this election, but
when you sit down and look at those eight initiatives, it’s a daunting
ballot. You can’t just look at the basic question being asked — you need
to know the details.

One of the best ways to learn about the measures is to share the experience.
It’s a lot more fun, and rewarding, to study your ballot pamphlet in the
company of other people. People you know, people you work with, people you

I recently held my first election house party. I invited a bunch of friends
over to spend an evening going through the eight initiatives together. Some
people brought wine, I served snacks from Trader Joe’s and played Led
Zeppelin’s “Going to California” to get everyone in the mood.

A timekeeper was appointed, we checked the time (8:06 p.m.), I promised we’d
take a break after the first four initiatives, and that we’d finish by
10:30. I passed out Easy Voter Guides and we took turns reading the summary
of each measure before launching into discussion.

We talked about the propositions, but we also talked about the larger policy
issues. We had people from a variety of professions there–teachers, union
members, legislative staffers. Someone asked early on why we were even
having this election at all? So we talked about the governor and his reform
agenda, and his view that these issues need urgent attention.

We heard first-hand from parents their feelings about notification of a
minor’s abortion. We learned that the union of a public employee in our
midst deducts $60 per month from his paycheck. We talked about the teaching
profession and compared it to other professions. We sorted out the
differences between Prop. 78 and 79.

By the end of the evening, I felt much more informed–not just about the
propositions on the ballot, but about the larger issues they represent.
What was really special about the experience for me, something I didn’t
anticipate, was how great it would feel to be in a room of people who care
about voting.

Having an election house party isn’t hard, and it is sure rewarding. In
fact, it was so much fun I’m thinking of having another one.

It’s not too late to plan your own election house party. Just pick a date
and contact some friends. Even if you’ve already voted you can host a party.

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