Democratic Activist Puts 17 California Ballot Measures, Propositions to Haiku

Trying to sort out the myriad of California ballot measures and propositions can be a nightmare for the average voter. The state's voters guide is more than 200 pages.

Groups such as CALmatters tried to boil down the essence of each potential law. But Democratic activist Damian Carroll decided to simply summarize them all in haiku.

"I wrote them over breakfast eating cereal, Trader Joe's O's with my daughters," Carroll said by phone on Tuesday. "I absolutely did not think this would get this big. I guess people are hungry for this."

So, Carroll, who works at a nonprofit that distributes glasses to the needy and is a Democratic activist in the San Fernando Valley, got to work. He read all the legislative analysts reports. He read websites. He read newspaper articles. And then, starting in July, he began writing the haikus. His daughters helped color them, where they now hang at the Democratic Party headquarters in North Hollywood.

Here's how he describes Prop. 56: "The cigarette tax, Would go up, two bucks a pack, E-cigarettes, too,".

Carroll also weighs in on dueling agendas, adding his liberal bent.

"If you want the state..To execute more people...This one's for you," he wrote of Prop. 66.

Carrol is the national director of the charity Vision to Learn in Brentwood, Calif. and a self-identified Democratic activist. He was also political director for Bobby Shriver for Los Angeles County Supervisor and director of special projects for Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian. He ran for state Assembly in 2013 and was a one-time substitute teacher. It was talking to high school students in 2005 that really started him on his path for digesting massive amounts of political information, and then teaching others about it, a little at a time. "I learned if you give people the information, they get really interested," he said.

He started sharing his haikus, one at a time, on Facebook and Twitter, in July with the hashtag #haikutheprops.

"But the individual posts didn't really take off," he said.

Then he released his entire work of poetry, which also include Los Angeles city measures, as a complete PDF document on Google Drive on Sept. 22.

"When I shared it, it just blew up," he said. "I'm really gratified."

Damian Carroll
Damian Carroll's haikus hang at the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley election headquarters in North Hollywood.

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