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Fact-checking claims about California’s ballot measures
PolitiFact California is fact-checking the state's major ballot measures leading up to Election Day. PolitiFact California is fact-checking the state's major ballot measures leading up to Election Day.

PolitiFact California is fact-checking the state's major ballot measures leading up to Election Day.

Chris Nichols
By Chris Nichols October 13, 2016

PolitiFact California has fact-checked claims about many of the state’s most controversial ballot measures, from Prop 64’s effort to legalize marijuana to Prop 62’s proposal to abolish the death penalty to Prop 60’s condom requirement in adult films.

Campaigns for and against the state’s 17 measures are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on advertisements and often making Half True or Mostly False claims.

We’ll update this page leading up to Election Day on Nov. 8.

If you have a ballot measure you think we should fact-check, please submit your idea here.

Below is a list of our ballot measure fact checks and articles:

Prop 53 -- Funding California's mega-projects

Gov. Jerry Brown slams Prop 53, omits analysis on mega-project measure

Brown says in a No on 53 TV ad that Prop 53 "increases the cost of roads, bridges and hospitals." Our examination found the governor ignores about half the independent analysis on the measure -- analysis that shows scenarios where costs could decrease.

Prop 55 -- Income tax on high-income earners

Yes on 55 school claim misses the mark

Supporters of Prop 55 say it would ‘prevent $4 billion in new cuts' to California public schools. The claim paints an overly dire financial picture and ignores key facts. PolitiFact California rated it Mostly False.

Prop 56 -- Tobacco tax increase

Tobacco industry misleads in Prop 56 'doctor advertisement'

No on 56, the campaign against California’s tobacco tax increase, recently claimed the measure "diverts 82 % of the new tax revenue" to wealthy special interests. PolitiFact California found the ad misleading and rated it Mostly False.

Big Tobacco blowing smoke in claim about California's Prop 56

Big Tobacco is flooding radio airwaves with the misleading claim that California's tobacco tax -- Prop 56 -- "cheats schools out of at least $600 million a year." PolitiFact California checked the facts, and rated the statement Mostly False.

Opponents of California's proposed tobacco tax say it 'cheats' schools. Photo by Florian Christoph / Flickr

Prop 57 -- Prison reform

Campaign uses Mostly False specter of Brock Turner case to oppose Prop 57

The No on 57 campaign seized on the notorious Brock Turner sexual assault case to make a questionable claim about a California prison reform proposal. PolitiFact California rated the claim Mostly False.

Loretta Sanchez misleads with Prop 57 claim

California U.S. Senate candidate Loretta Sanchez compared Prop 57 to a ‘get out of jail free’ card for felons who commit gun crimes. PolitiFact California found that claim way off-the-mark and rated it False.

Prop 60 -- Condom requirement in adult films

Will California’s Prop 60 expose adult film workers to lawsuits?

Opponents of California's Prop 60, requiring condoms in pornography, say the measure would expose adult film workers to lawsuits. They have a point. But they left out the key context that only workers with a financial stake in the content would be liable. We rated the claim Half True.

Prop 61 -- Prescription drug prices

Bold claims about California’s drug price measure persist, despite unknowns

An examination of Big Pharma's assertion that Prop 61 will hike drug costs for most Californians.

Examining Bernie Sanders’ claim: Prop 61 ‘great for California taxpayers’

Sanders says Prop 61 'is great for taxpayers,' but independent analysts are less certain about the prescription drug measure. Because his claim is a prediction, PolitiFact California did not rate it. Instead we outlined the facts as they are known about the measure’s future effect on taxpayers.

Big Pharma Not The King Of Ballot Cash In California, But It's Close

Californians for Lower Drug Prices claimed in March Big Pharma had piled up more cash to defeat a November ballot measure than all other state initiative campaigns have raised – combined. PolitiFact California crunched the numbers and rated the claim Half True.

Condemned inmate Martin Navarette peers out his cell on death row at San Quentin State Prison near San Francisco, in December 2015. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Prop 62 -- Abolishing death penalty

Truth be told: California has ‘largest death row in Western Hemisphere’

The campaign to abolish the state’s death penalty said "California is home to the largest death row population in the Western Hemisphere." It turns out, the state has nearly twice as many death row inmates as the next closest state or country. We rated the claim True.

Did California spend $5 billion to execute 13 people?

Potential gubernatorial candidate Tom Steyer said recently: "Since 1978, California has spent $5 billion to put 13 people to death." That cost, however, has been spread over hundreds of cases since 1978, not just the 13 that led to executions. We rated Steyer’s claim Mostly False.

A Glock 30SF .45 Auto semi-automatic pistol with a Glock 13-round extension magazine installed, and 13 rounds of hollow-point ammunition are seen in Alexandria, Va., Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Prop 63 -- Gun, ammo control

Mostly False claim that California gun control measure will 'criminalize' the sharing of bullets

A gun rights group claimed California's Prop 63 would restrict not only gun ammunition sales, but "criminalize the sharing of bullets between hunting and shooting partners." PolitiFact California found the claim is a far, far stretch. We rated it Mostly False.

Mostly True for California initiative's claim: Guns kill 32,000 Americans each year

A claim by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom-backed Yes on 63 says "More than 32,000 Americans lose their lives to gun violence each year." It needs a key clarification, but we rated it Mostly True.

It's no Whopper: Licensed gun dealers outnumber McDonald’s about 2-to-1 in California

The Yes on 63 campaign claims "there are at least twice as many licensed firearm dealers in the state as there are McDonald’s." It’s a colorful claim and PolitiFact California found hard data to back it up.

Prop 64 -- Legalizing marijuana

Hazy data makes Colorado marijuana claim by Scott Jones Half True

GOP congressional candidate Scott Jones said Colorado saw "increased incidents of emergency room visits by young people" and "increased incidents of driving while under the influence of marijuana after the state legalized the drug. The first part of his claim is accurate, but there’s not enough convincing data to prove the second. We rated his claim Half True.

Feinstein’s claim about marijuana ads on ‘prime time’ TV goes up in smoke

Sen. Dianne Feinstein says Prop 64 "allows marijuana smoking ads in prime time, on programs with millions of children and teenage viewers." There’s an element of truth to this cloudy claim, but it’s Mostly False.

Prop 67 -- Plastic bag ban

What’s in the Calif. bag fee for the environment? Opponents: ‘Not one penny’

Opponents of Prop 67 say 'not one penny' of the 10 cent paper bag fee imposed by the initiative would fund the environment. We found that statement is partially accurate, but ignores some key facts. We rated it Half True.


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Fact-checking claims about California’s ballot measures