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October 31st, 2014 | By Alicia Silverstone

There are important issues on your ballot that you have the power to influence. I know it can be all sorts of overwhelming to tackle confusing ballot measures and research what’s really going on, but here are some hopefully more simple ways to help you navigate.

Vote Smart – is a website where you can select your state and it’s ballot, or narrow it down by issue

Sierra Club Voter’s Guide – a handy map where you can click on your state and see who they endorse, not saying it’s good or bad just gives you some info to go off of and research who these candidates are.

If you’re voting in California check out, it breaks down some of the propositions and info on candidates.

Earth Island Journal – Election 2014: A Guide to the Biggest Environmental Battles

Here are a few highlights of some important state ballot initiatives:

California- Proposition 1, CA Voters have the power to help decide the fate of a $7.1 billion bond measure that if passed would pay for improvements to the state’s drought-strained water infrastructure. Some environmentalists aren’t excited about this proposition since they feel it doesn’t address real water solutions… Rather, it leans towards building dams (by about $2.7 billion) in place of water conservation, efficiency, and recycling (cut to $1.5 billion in funding). The smaller funds for water conservation and efficiency aren’t even guaranteed due to vauge legal language. Then, there is about $572.2 million provided for stream diversion, where flowing upstream water will be brought down to dryer areas. The catch is, once this water becomes part of the stream flow and ecosystem, it becomes “abandoned” water, up for grabs by private interest groups and Big Agriculture (harming the ecosystems and it’s species, as well as putting a band-aid on the issue.)

Despite these non-eco aspects of the proposition, some environmental groups are overlooking them and feel like it is still a sound investment  for regional water supplies and watershed restoration because things like water recycling. These are good things, but funding for them pails in comparison to water diversion and dams.  

This seems like sketchy stuff. On the surface it appears ok and even somewhat beneficial for the environment (by using terminology like water conservation, restoration, and recycling) and water crisis, but as you break it down it is more about using tax payer dollars to subsidize dam construction as well as satiate big agriculture’s water needs and not much at all for water resource and ecosystem sustainability. Definitely dig a little deeper to see which side feels right for you. 

New Jersey- Public Question 2 will direct 6 percent of corporate tax revenues to open space preservation. This measure is way less divided than California’s Prop 1, it is supported by the majority NJ’s environmental groups.

Michigan- Proposal 1 and 2 authorizes the establishment of open hunting season on wolves! By voting ‘no’ on prop 1 and 2, you are helping protect this beautiful endangered species. Private interest groups (from trophy hunters to trapping lobbying groups) back both propositions while organizations like Keep Michigan Wolves Protected and The Humane Society are against it.

There are also some awesome local initiatives such as in Berkeley, CA, Measure D would add a one-cent- per-ounce tax on sugary beverages with the money going towards school nutrition programs. “Big Soda” (corporations like Coca Cola and Pepsi) and the American Beverage Association are against this initiative where as health, education, and community organizations (such as California Nurses Association to the YMCA of central Bay Area) support it.

Talk to your friends about what’s going on in your city or do a little research! You can make an influence so join me in getting informed and voting this November!!

What’s is going on in your state or local area this November? What other voting resources are your aware of?



Photo Credit: Radio Facts

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