News

Sharp concerns over crowded ballot

Voters in Ventura County cast ballots during a recent election. (Photo: Spirit of America, Shutterstock)

California’s clogged, high-stakes November ballot is riveting voters’ attention – and raising fears among those who have to count the votes.

It’s a perfect storm: Intense interest in the presidential general election, a deluge of six dozen ballot initiatives cleared for circulation, labor-intensive signature-verification requirements and the likelihood that the potential initiatives will be submitted in a tight time window, thus further straining resources.

“This is the first presidential election cycle where the shift of state measures from the primary to the general election has occurred.”

Added to that are predictions of an unusually high voter turnout.

The state’s top elections officer, Secretary of State Alex Padilla, has asked for $32 million to allow the counties to hire additional, temporary workers to handle the expanded workload. The counties’ elections officials, who do the heavy lifting in verifying signatures and counting votes, have joined him.

The ballot initiatives present the biggest problem.

“This is the first presidential election cycle where the shift of state measures from the primary to the general election has occurred,” Dean Logan, the Los Angeles County registrar told a joint legislative committee on April 14. L.A. County has 4.8 million registered voters.

At least 72 measures have been cleared to circulate petitions to capture voters’ signatures, and another 41 failed to qualify.

“That volume (of ballot initiatives) alone is unprecedented, but the impact of checking the petitions in parallel to administering the presidential primary will put a strain on county resources that simply was not anticipated when the laws changing the date for state measures were passed and when counties adopted their 2015-16 budgets” he said. “The petition-checking process and the administration of the primary election intersect  — they cannot really be viewed as exclusive of one another.”

Thus far, at least four statewide ballot initiatives have officially qualified for the Nov. 8 general election, and four more have collected sufficient signatures and are awaiting placement. The measures deal with education funding, marijuana legalization, safe-sex for porn actors, a referendum on the plastic bag ban, infrastructure funding, stricter limits on revenue bond financing, and more.

A ninth measure, which would increase the minimum wage to $15, is expected to be pulled from the ballot following the passage of similar legislation signed by the governor.

But as of Tuesday, at least 72 measures have been cleared to circulate petitions to capture voters’ signatures, and another 41 failed to qualify.

Fifteen proposed ballot initiatives, all circulating, have received at least 25 percent of the signatures to meet the threshold to qualify – about 365,880 signatures for a statute and 585,407 to amend the constitution.

Based on past experience, most proposed initiatives won’t make the ballot. But some will, and observers are expecting to see 15 propositions on the statewide ballot, and probably more. Some even see 20 or 25 measures on the ballot.

California has 17.26 million registered voters, about 70.2 percent of the total pool of those who are eligible to vote, about 24.6 million.

Statewide, according to the latest state report, current voter registration is nearly 2 percent less than in 2012, when it was 72.1 percent. But the latest voter registration numbers are almost certain to rise as the elections near and the major parties launch get-out-the-vote efforts.

 


  • EvanRavitz

    Letting people sign ballot initiative petitions on the Secretary of State’s website, just like you register or change your address, would eliminate the cost of comparing physical signatures, put ballot initiatives within the reach of those without huge funds, get more people to read more of the initiative text before signing, and reduce harassment for signatures in hot parking lots.

    The LA times has editorialized for this change: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-0330-money-initiative-20160329-story.html

    • Gabriel Silva

      This is why CIRRRA of the California Initiative, Referendum, and Recall Reform Act of 2016 is going to make these signature gathering processes electronic. It brings efficiency, transparency, and equal opportunity for many different demographics who do not have access to participate due to not being in a position to access these petitions. Find out more here info here: Sign the petition now! cirrraof2016.com

    • ГИТЛЕР БЫЛ ПРАВ

      What a crock of shít, like everything else in California… you people are too fúcking lazy to even go collect signatures…

      While Leon Puñettas was so busy with gay pride celebrations at the Pentagon, three Navy Seals and a U.S. ambassador were murdered, all because everyone was being so fúcking gay.

      LA Times is owned by a bunch of kíkes… fúck ’em… you people can’t even figure out what bathrooms you should use.

  • edsully

    This is absurd. The volume of ballot measures being circulated is a demonstration of the failure of our elected officials, the legislature and the governor, to do their job. We pay these people very good wages and benefits to deal with these problems and then they cop out leading to 20 or 30 ballot measures that the voters have to plow through every year. Personally, I’m going to vote against all these measures to send a message to the governor and legislature to do their job.

    • Gabriel Silva

      This is why CIRRRA of the California Initiative, Referendum, and Recall Reform Act of 2016 is going to make these signature gathering processes electronic. It brings efficiency, transparency, and equal opportunity for many different demographics who do not have access to participate due to not being in a position to access these petitions. Find out more here! Sign the petition now! cirrraof2016.com

      • edsully

        This initiative will do nothing to fix the problem I cited. We wouldn’t need to go to the ballot so many times if the legislature and governor would do their jobs. We pay these people very good money and then they punt on tough issues thus requiring voters to plough through 20 or 30 measures each election. That’s absurd.

        • Gabriel Silva

          Really? What’s absurd is relying on politicians and these archaic methods of these processes. CIRRRA will do everything we need to fix these processes and if you are waiting for a politician you will be waiting for a very long time. CIRRRA will fix the validity issue, reduce costs, and allow the people to have effective voices. We will be able to recall these politicians easier and reduce their paycheck. These processes are not even being used successfully by the people as intended in 1911. They are being used by wealthy special interest groups. When the next law comes out taking your liberties are you going to stand in the streets and collect hindreds of thousands of signatures? Regular people can’t afford to pay circulators.

  • Gabriel Silva

    This is why CIRRRA of the California Initiative, Referendum, and Recall Reform Act of 2016 is going to make these signature gathering processes electronic. It brings efficiency, transparency, and equal opportunity for many different demographics who do not have access to participate due to not being in a position to access these petitions. Sign the petition now! find out more info here: cirrraof2016.com

  • Nate Kaplan

    Got to check out SeePolitical.com which makes ballot measures easy to understand with unbiased short animations. This is a game changer when it comes to understanding the numerous measures on your ballot.

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