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L.A. Physician Encourages People To Be Informed

Max Schwartz |
January 18, 2013 | 11:50 p.m. PST

Executive Producer


(Sam Felder/Creative Commons)
(Sam Felder/Creative Commons)
Dr. Reed L. Levine, a New York native now living and working in the greater Los Angeles area, is involved in California politics. California has the strongest direct democracy system in the 50 state union, and Dr. Levine has dedicated time to learn about California's proposition system, something that is not the easiest of tasks. In 2008, Dr. Levine created Vote No On Everything. Vote No on Everything is an organization that encourages people to become informed about the issues on the ballot and sends the message that people should not automatically vote yes on everything.

Levine, who started the organization in an effort to keep civil rights from being taken away, said, "It was just surprising to me…taxes could be affected by a simple majority vote…" He also noted the challenge of navigating the system as someone not from California. He remarked, "…you're overwhelmed…" when discussing all of the measures that appear on ballots and all of the television ads. Levine said, "…people vote…based on TV commercials…" and during my interview with him, he emphasized how this is not how people should vote.

Another point Levine brought up was the fact that California's proposition system, "take[s] job[s] away from [legislators]." He brought up the bullet train as an example during our discussion. He believes putting the train on the ballot was a bad idea because people would like it, but they would not necessarily understand the train in its entirety. He believes most people did not know the relative cost and the proposed route, among other aspects of the project. Dr. Levine believes people should understand all parts of the issue they are voting for and not just whether they like the idea of what they are voting for. This goes back to his emphasis on educating the voters. Votenooneverything.org says, "Voters should only consider voting 'yes' on propositions if first they fully inform themselves about the true costs and implications of their vote." The website continues with, "We seek to educate people about the proposition system to encourage more intelligent voting choices. Ultimately we aim to revise the broken California proposition system."

Dr. Levine also spent time talking about his motivation to start the organization. "[The] Bar for passing…is so low…it's ridiculous…," Levine said. The idea, in his mind, "…was to draw people to understand how bad the proposition system is." Levine thinks people should not enter the voting booth with thought of automatically voting yes. His organization sends the message that the original thought should be no, "…unless voting no means taking away human rights." On that issue, Levine remarked, "I don't think civil rights should be taken away by a 50 percent vote or even a 90 percent vote…"

Levine believes the current system is essentially "a fight" between both sides of the issue in the form of advertisements. He believes there are other ways to structure the direct democracy system California holds near and dear. Dr. Levine would like our ballot measure system changed so a two-thirds majority is passing, not 50 percent. He would, however, also be fine with the state getting rid of the system all together.


See the Vote No On Everything website here.


Reach Executive Producer Max Schwartz here; follow him on Twitter here.



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