Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Andrew Sinclair

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Rights Information

2019 Bryn C. Miller


In recent years, critics have argued that the California attorney general’s role in formulating ballot language opens the door to biased titles and summaries for statewide propositions. This paper examines the debate over the propriety of the attorney general’s role, using the largely unexamined case study of Proposition 58 (2016) to gain insight about the attorney general’s influence. In November 2016, voters in California – many in counties that supported Donald Trump – approved Prop. 58 with 73.5 percent of the vote. This proposition removed many restrictions on bilingual education programs in public schools. Eighteen years earlier, 61 percent of Californians had approved an initiative to restrict bilingual education in the state. This paper uses a combination of qualitative and quantitative analysis to examine potential reasons for this swing in voting behavior on bilingual education policy, concluding that the attorney general’s ballot language most compellingly explains the bulk of this shift. As such, the paper suggests adding an extra check on the attorney general’s office during the ballot drafting process to ensure that Californians receive clear, impartial information on election day.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.