Convinced that the people are the only safe depositories of their own liberty, and that they are not safe unless enlightened to a certain degree, I have looked on our present state of liberty as a short-lived possession unless the mass of the people could be informed to a certain degree. –Thomas Jefferson

Who the hell am I, and do you want to take my election advice? I am a liberal, an atheist, a skeptic, a fan of science, reason and compassion, and anti-teabagger. I try to help others and refrain from being a douche whenever possible.

I made my choices based on the official voter info guides from the state, candidate websites, and my own strong google-fu.

President: Barack Obama

My Democratic ballot just has the one choice, and I’m more than happy with it. I believe that if you have a non-party ballot, you can vote for a Republican candidate. If that’s the case, I’d suggest Santorum or Paul, as every delegate not locked down by Romney will sow chaos and push the GOP platform further into right wing nut job territory.

Proposition 28, Term Limits Adjustment: YES

It seems odd. You would think the GOP would be against term limits, as it imposes a lack of “freedom” upon the voter. If one is happy with one’s representation, why force a change? And doesn’t a constant turnover of state Senators and Assembly members lead to nothing but a confederacy of novices, with people forced to leave just as they’re learning the system?

Ah, but in California, the Dems always hold the Senate and Assembly. So the GOP wants more chances to match their novices against our novices, in hopes of picking up some seats.

What this measure does is relax the term limit restrictions. Right now, you can serve six years in the Assembly, then eight years in the Senate, and that’s it. This measure would make it so you can serve up to 12 years total in either house. So you could be a Senator for 12 years (assuming people voted for you,) or you could be an Assembly member for 6 years and then a Senator for 6… any combination. It’s an appropriate weakening of the draconian term limits the GOP counts on.

Proposition 29, Cigarette Tax: YES

All you need to do is look at the pile of money that Phillip Morris is throwing at TV commercials trying to defeat this prop to know it’s a good idea.

Smoking-related illnesses killed both my parents. If the extra dollar a pack causes even one person to decide that it’s just too expensive, and it’s time to quit, then this prop will be worth it.

Party Central Committee: Incumbents plus Jeffrey Prang

The county Dems appear to be fairly well organized, so I see no reason to vote against the incumbents. There are six incumbents, and the ballot says to vote for no more than seven. My seventh choice is Jeffrey Prang, Mayor of WEHO, who from what I can tell is a decent guy and a staunch liberal.

United States Senator: Orly Taitz

Wait! Wait! Where are you going??? Come back! Hear me out!

California’s U.S. Senate and House primaries are now, thanks to the Republican Prop 14, “open primaries.” The top two vote-getters in the primary will face off in the general election. This will lead to lots of fun for the GOP, as in the relatively liberal California, it’s likely that sometimes BOTH of the top two will be Dems! I voted “no” on that prop, but now I’m thinking it could be a good thing.

And here’s the first potentially major backfire race for the GOP: Diane Feinstein is popular and well-funded – so much so that nobody in the state GOP stepped up to run against her. But Orly Taitz, dentist, lawyer, birther queen, decided to jump into the race. And here’s the thing: NOBODY besides Feinstein is even polling above 10%. Taitz has name recognition and there are plenty of tin-foil-hat folks who will vote for her (assuming they can properly defend themselves from the U.N. mind beams put out by every voting machine!!!!!1!!)

So just a few votes could actually put Taitz into second place, meaning the general election would pit her against Feinstein. This would be a gigantic embarrassment to the national GOP. She could probably demand to speak during the convention! This is a wonderful opportunity to restore a little bit of sanity by providing a proper yardstick for insanity.

United States House of Representatives, 28th District: Adam Schiff

The districts have all shifted due to redistricting, and Schiff is now my man. I think Hollywood used to belong to Berman. Schiff has some power and votes well left-of-center. In a perfect universe, if the Dems take back the House, he’ll be a very powerful member of the Appropriations Committee.

State Assembly, 50th District: Betsy Butler

This district has moved as well. Butler is considered very progressive and is endorsed by a number of LGBT organizations. In fact, Jeffrey Prang, Mayor of WEHO, was asked by the state Dems to bow out of the race to make sure Butler won. He did, and is now a major supporter of hers. It says something that he feels comfortable enough that his agenda will be represented by her that he’d drop out.

Superior Court Judge, Office 3: Craig Gold

There’s no incumbent, so we’re picking a new judge here. Gold has been a Deputy DA since 1990. One of his goals is to ensure that financially disadvantaged people have proper access to legal council. I think he’ll do well.

Superior Court Judge, Office 10: Sanjay T. Kumar

He’s the current incumbent. No obvious red flags.

Superior Court Judge, Office 38: Lynn Diane Olson

She’s the incumbent, and is endorsed by the county Dems.

Superior Court Judge, Office 65: Shannon Knight

This is another race with no incumbent. I can’t go into it (seriously!) but I’ve seen her in action during a trial. I’ll vouch for her.

Superior Court Judge, Office 78: James D. Otto

He’s the incumbent, and I see no reason to vote him out. His opponent seems kind of right-wing.

Superior Court Judge, Office 114: Eric Harmon

This is a race with no incumbent. Of the three candidates, I think Harmon has the best shot at being a good, effective judge.

County District Attorney: Danette E. Meyers

She’s endorsed by the Deputy DA’s Association and the state Dems. And she’s been named one of “California’s Top 100 Lawyers.” I was peripherally involved with some other people on that list, and you’ve got to be damn sharp to be on it.

L.A. County Measure H, Hotel Occupancy Tax: YES

We need money, and a good way to get it is to grab a little from all those places where “socialism” has failed so miserably that they take their copious disposable income and come here for vacation, and to experience the thrill of paying for medical care. The HOT was already raised, but there’s a lawsuit claiming it needs to be voted on. So voting YES for this will shut that down, as an added benefit.

L.A. County Measure L, Landfill Tax: YES

Same deal as Measure H. Also of note: No arguments against either measure were submitted to the county.

And that is the end of my ballot. Your ballot may vary, and I hope you go out and find some info on your choices.

Remember, ultimately, it doesn’t matter if you camped out on a lawn for a few weeks, or carried banners and shouted slogans walking down the street. What matters is what you decide to do in the voting booth. It is your one guaranteed little piece of power as a citizen. It is the one place where you can actually change something.