Though the presidential race may have garnered the most attention last night, several important California elections, including statewide and local initiatives and the senate race, were also decided.
Some of the most widely anticipated ballot propositions covered gun ammunition registration and background checks and marijuana legalization, both of which passed. The senate race between Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez, which Harris won, also attracted significant interest.
With the ballots counted, students and faculty weighed in on the potential consequences of these propositions and elections and how they may affect California in the years to come.
Proposition 63 drew out very different responses from students.
“I voted yes [on Prop. 63 regarding ammunition background checks],” said Lena Tavitian, a sophomore majoring in economics and business administration. “For gun control, you need to increase regulation. Hopefully it will make it harder for people to get ammo.”
Diego Hernandez, a sophomore majoring in physics, thought Prop. 63 may infringe on Californians’ second amendment rights.
“I’m pro guns… and I disagree with any type of gun control on any ballot,” Hernandez said. “This is just another example of democrats trying to take away our second amendment rights. It bodes poorly for California, because we already have some of the strictest regulations.”
Hernandez also commented on Proposition 64 regarding marijuana legalization, saying that increasing access to drugs may prove to be a mistake.
“The law is misleading in a way because, although it legalizes marijuana, it also heavily regulates it, which may create another problem,” Hernandez said. “I don’t believe marijuana should be made legal because it’s a gateway drug.”
Jordan Tolentino, an undeclared sophomore, offered a different perspective, saying that legalization will reduce enforcement expenses.
“We waste a lot of time, money and resources, especially on law enforcement, for people who are smoking and in possession of marijuana,” Jordan said. “I feel that if we legalize marijuana, we will help destroy the black market in California for marijuana. We can allocate our resources for law enforcement much more wisely if we legalize marijuana.”
According to Christian Grose, an associate professor of public policy, California Attorney General Kamala Harris prevailed in her senatorial race largely because of her persona and presence, not her policies.
“California had its first major statewide race under the new top-two primary system where the two general election candidates were both candidates. Because the voters chose between two Democrats, other factors beyond partisanship were at play,” Grose said. “Because both Sanchez and Harris were Democrats, more voters likely evaluated which of the two was perceived as better on non-policy dimensions. Harris won as she appeared more polished and better prepared to many of the states’ voters.”
Dan Schnur, director of the Unruh Institute of Politics, commented on the role millennial voters played in passing many of these referenda.
“I think what’s most interesting about the outcomes of these initiatives is how young voters in California seem to have weighed in in a much more progressive fashion on most, if not all, of them, than their parents or grandparents,” Schnur said. “While California in general is a deep blue state and leans decidedly leftward, the youngest California voters are the most aggressively progressive on these issues and almost certainly fuel the outcomes.”
Schnur also noted that, in spite of the attention paid to national races, local and statewide election results may actually have more of an impact on voters’ daily lives.
“National elections get all the attention,” Schnur said. “There’s more glamour attached to them, and they attract the attention of the entire country. But ultimately, a voter can make a much greater difference in a campaign for a local or statewide office, or a local or statewide ballot initiative. Even though these elections tend to get less attention, in the long run they can be just as, if not more, impactful.”