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This Year's Ballot Is Not The Longest One In California History

Californians will vote Tuesday on 17 propositions – the most for any state since Arizona in 2006. But that’s far from the most they’ve ever voted on. In fact, it’s about average.

”It’s not historically unprecedented, but it is something that we haven’t seen a lot of recently,” says John Matsusaka with the University of Southern California's Initiative and Referendum Institute. “We haven’t had this many propositions on the ballot for a little while now, so I think it might be a little more than people are used to who haven’t been voting for a long time.”

The last California ballot this long was the 2000 Primary, with 20. The record is a whopping 48 – way back in 1914, three years after the creation of California’s direct democracy system.

The second highest came far more recently, in 1990, although that year’s 45 measures were split between the primary and general elections.

There’s no such split this year. That’s because a few years back, the Democrat-controlled Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown assigned all voter initiatives and referenda to general elections – when Democrats are more likely to turn out and vote.

 Election 2016

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio