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Stem cell initiative poised to qualify for November

Signature gathering during the 2018 election cycle. (Photo: Michael Gordon, via Shutterstock)

The $5.5 billion California stem cell initiative is virtually certain to qualify for the fall ballot as the arithmetic of the signature count begins to fall into place.

The measure needs only slightly more than the 67 percent of the signatures that remain to be verified as coming from registered voters. The qualification percentage of raw signatures so far is 78 percent.

California Stem Cell Initiative: Current Shortfall for Ballot Qualification

Total Raw Signatures 924,189
Total Outstanding Unverified  305,312
Total Needed Under Quickest Way to Qualify 685,534
Total  Verified 481,689
Current Shortfall 203,845

(Source: California Secretary of State 6/5/2020/California Stem Cell Report)

It is unlikely that that the qualification rate for remaining raw signatures would drop as low as 66 per percent unless something quite unusual occurs. Only 18 of the 58 counties have yet to verify their raw signatures, which total 305,312. The initiative needs 203,845 verified signatures to make the ballot.

The ballot initiative is aimed at saving the California stem cell agency from financial extinction. Known formally as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the agency has nearly run through the $3 billion it received from voters in 2004. Without a major cash infusion, it will begin closing its doors next fall.

The campaign is shooting for the quickest way to the ballot. It submitted 924,189 raw signatures about one month ago. Legally, the measure needs only 623,212 signatures that are verified to have come from registered voters.

However, the state permits a combination of a random and hand count total of 110 percent of that number to qualify a measure without going to a signature-by-signature verification. County election officials are currently in the combination, random sample phase of checking the signatures on the ballot initiative petition.

If the current process falls short of 110 percent, the state requires a “full check” of each signature, a task that likely cannot be completed by the state’s deadline of June 25. Counties have until June 24 to report to the state. (If the percentage falls below 95, the measure will not qualify.)

See here for the state’s official report on the count as of the end of work last Friday. Here are more details on how the initiative process works in California.

The California Stem Cell Report will have updated figures this evening or early tomorrow.

California Stem Cell Ballot Initiative Signature Count
Unverified/raw signatures outstanding as of June 5, 2020
County
Raw Signatures
Alameda
31,002
Butte
6,502
Contra Costa
23,167
Fresno
29,072
Inyo
610
Kings
1,756
Lake
2,088
Placer
8,343
Riverside
51,478
San Benito
485
San Diego
99,899
San Joaquin
14,263
San Mateo
6,491
Santa Cruz
6,436
Solano
9,910
Trinity
142
Tulare
9,663
Yolo
4,005
Total Outstanding Unverified
305,312
Source: California Secretary of State 6/5/2020, California Stem Cell Report

Editor’s Note: David Jensen is a retired newsman who has followed the affairs of the $3 billion California stem cell agency since 2005 via his blog, the California Stem Cell Report. He has published more than 4,000 items on California stem cell matters.

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