Alameda County voters may want to delay diving into that next novel soon, because a long read is on its way this fall -- in the form of November's general-election ballot.
And it'll come at a price -- probably more than $4 million, compared with the usual $3.2 million, mostly because of extra printing costs, said Dave Macdonald, Alameda County's registrar of voters. Costs are usually split proportionally between the state, county and local governments and the special districts with items on the ballot, he said.
"This is a byproduct of all the statewide and local measures for November," he said. "It will be a very long ballot for voters."
The ballot will include a slew of state and local ballot measures -- most of them attempts by cash-strapped governments to raise revenue. It also will include a handful of races for seats in Sacramento and the usual number of local contests.
Most of the county's voters will see two full pages of choices when they get to the polls or receive their ballots in the mail. County residents have not had such a long ballot since 2006.
However, voters in Oakland, Berkeley and San Leandro are likely to see three pages because of the debut of ranked-choice voting, which eliminated the need for June primaries for those cities' local races.
Oakland voters will make selections in a full parade of local races, including for mayor, and decide on seven local ballot measures. Berkeley voters will decide
Aside from time and money, some voting experts say there are other ramifications to a long ballot that can affect election outcomes.
A type of "voters' fatigue" or "voter roll-off" can set in if ballots are too long, said Robert Dudley, a professor at George Mason University in Virginia who studies elections.
"The longer the ballot, the less likely (voters) are to complete it," Dudley said.
Typically, he said, the longer the ballot, the more likely voters are to not vote on certain races or measures they may not be familiar with or care about.
Voters also are more likely to skip items further down the ballot, because ballots usually are not visually engaging enough to hold voters' interest for very long, he said.
While longer ballots won't usually dissuade voters from participating in elections, they'll often stop people from casting votes on every item, said Joe Mathews, a fellow at New America Foundation and co-author of "California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It."
"It's been shown people won't vote for races they don't know as much about on longer ballots," Mathews said. "Typically, on a short ballot, people fill everything out. But on longer ones, it's hard for people to know the goings-on for every race."