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Dissed-off Californians: Study calls us disgusted, disgruntled, distrustful of state government

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What unites California voters above all else? Pessimism about the state and its governance system.

That's what the Public Policy Institute of California concludes in its new report, "Improving California's Democracy," saying that voters' levels of disillusionment are at historic highs. Voters blame the recession, joblessness, the economy, state budget cuts that reduce local services, and wasted tax dollars.

The survey said voters trust their local governments more than Sacramento and Washington.

We also trust ourselves — through the initiative process — to make important decisions about public policy.

That's in spite of the fact — according to the survey — that voters lack basic knowledge about the complex decisions they are asked to make on Election Day.

The Policy Institute says greater public participation in elections is the answer. It recommends registering more eligible adults, extending the time allowed to register, pre-registering 17-year-olds to vote, even allowing online voting through county registrars' websites.

The report also calls for more rules requiring the funders of initiatives to be disclosed during signature gathering and campaigns, and on the ballot itself.