Californians will vote on nine propositions on the 2010 general election ballot on Tuesday, allowing them to have a say on issues such as the legalization of marijuana and the regulation of air pollution.
The latest Los Angeles Times/USC poll, which surveyed about 1,500 likely voters, released results on Oct. 24 showing how voters feel about propositions 19, 23 and 25.
According to the poll, Proposition 19, the ballot initiative for legalizing marijuana, is losing support. Of those polled, 51 percent said they opposed the proposition, compared to 39 percent who said they supported it.
Proposition 19, if passed, will allow Californians over the age of 21 to grow a maximum of 25 square feet of marijuana and possess up to an ounce. Proposition 19 also allows local governments to regulate the commercial sale and taxation of marijuana.
The age of voters will be a large factor in the passing of the proposition, said Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a political expert in state politics and fellow at the School of Public Policy, Planning, and Development.
“The younger you are, the more supportive you are,” Jeffe said.
According to the poll, 48 percent of likely voters younger than 40 said they supported the proposition, whereas among likely voters 65 years old and older, only 28 percent said they supported the proposition.
Opponents argue the law will cost the state money if local governments set up individual regulatory bodies to authorize the sale and cultivation of marijuana; proponents say it would generate tax revenue of up to $1.4 billion a year, according to the State Board of Equalization.
The opposition says that a bill recently signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is sufficient in terms of marijuana regulation. Senate Bill 1449 makes marijuana possession of less than one ounce an infraction punishable by a $100 fine, and proponents argue it will open up prisons and help alleviate California’s overcrowded facilities.
Opponents also argue that people of any age would have more access to marijuana if legalized, whereas supporters say it would lead to regulations that would keep marijuana out of children’s hands.
“I get that it could help save the economy, but I wouldn’t want my children to be habitually smoking marijuana,” said Brett Williams, a senior majoring in political science. “We can fix the economy without making a sacrifice in a possibly harmful way.”
Proposition 23 proposes to suspend the California air pollution law currently in place until state unemployment drops to 5.5 percent or less for at least a year. Of likely voters, the poll reported that 48 percent opposed the measure and 32 percent were in favor.
Along party lines, 58 percent of Democrats opposed the proposition, whereas 23 percent approved; 34 percent of Republicans opposed, 43 percent were in favor.
Proponents argue the proposition will save jobs. Opponents argue it kills job-competition from other energy sources, such as wind and solar companies.
“I’m totally against it,” said Megan Tucker, a sophomore majoring in political science. “It’s from big oil companies trying to lower their costs.”
Proponents said the proposition prevents energy tax increases and preserves California’s current clean air and water laws, while opponents argue that it would decrease dependence on already expensive oil, threaten public health and cause more air pollution.
Some forestry and air quality officials also back the proposition.
“Environmentalists will consider the loss a win,” said Jeffe, who said she believes the proposition likely lost support after the BP oil spill in the Gulf region.
The California Professional Firefighters and American Lung Association are among the opponents.
“When in doubt, Californians tend to vote no,” Jeffe said, adding that if voters are confused about a proposition or do not know much about it, they tend to vote against it.
Proposition 25, if passed, would change the legislative voting requirement to pass budget and budget-related legislation to a simple majority. The two-thirds requirement currently implemented would only apply to tax law.
According to the poll, likely voters favored the proposition 58 percent to 28 percent. Along party lines, both Democrats and Republicans seem to be in support of the measure: 68 percent of Democrats and 46 percent of Republicans polled said they were in favor the initiative.
Proponents argue the measure would change the state’s budget process and force legislators to submit a prompt budget. On the other hand, opponents argue it becomes easier for politicians to raise taxes and restrict Californians’ right to “reject bad laws,” according to the secretary of state’s website. Opponents argue that it will increase their expense accounts and wasteful spending.
“People are not listening to politicians,” Jeffe said. “People are listening to each other at this point in time. It’s going to come down to who the voters trust.”
Whitney Blaine contributed to this report.