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One week to go -- are you ready? Have a house party!

November 1, 2005

Hi Folks,

We are one 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 trust.

Last week, I 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.

The California Voter Foundation and the Commonwealth Club of California are promoting election house parties and have set up information online to help people plan them. Visit to learn more. If you've participated in this kind of event already, we'd love to hear about it and invite you to fill out the online feedback form.

For more information about this election, visit the California Online Voter Guide, at

-- Kim Alexander, California Voter Foundation

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This page was first published on November 1, 2005 | Last updated on January 27, 2006
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