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California Legislators Consider Moving all Initiatives away from Primary Election Dates

Published on August 31, 2011, by in General.

This CalBuzz article says Democrats in the California legislature may introduce a bill (or amend another election law bill to add a new provision) soon to provide that initiatives, no matter when they are submitted, will not appear on the June primary ballot. Instead they would wait and be placed on the November ballot. The rationale is that initiatives should be on the ballot that draws all voters to the polls. Democrats believe that the June 2012 primary ballot in California will have low turnout from Democrats, but high turnout from Republicans, because the Republican presidential primary will theoretically be exciting but the Democratic presidential primary will not be exciting. Therefore, the voters who show up in June would be skewed.

The June 2012 primary will also contain U.S. Senate, U.S. House, and legislature, but again, in 2012, the U.S. Senate race is likely to be more exciting for Republican voters than for Democratic voters, because incumbent U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein is running for re-election and no Democrat with any support is expected to enter the race against her.

California currently is the only state, or almost the only state, that ever permits statewide initiatives to appear on a primary ballot.

8 Responses

  1. Demo Rep

    ALL petition stuff must be self-enforcing in constitutions.

    The New Age robot party hack gerrymander MONSTERS (aka Oligarchs) are the ENEMIES of REAL Democracy — in the Congress, all State legislatures and local regimes.

  2. Johnny

    Although I can’t quote the law, I do know that Michigan in August 2002, had two statewide proposals on the ballot. I think they were both put on by the Legislature.

  3. Jim Riley

    There is a possibility of referendums on the redistricting plans. If the petitions are sufficient the law is suspended until after the election on the referendum. Without legislative districts, legislators can’t be elected.

    The governor could always call a statewide special election to be coincident with the primary.

    Maybe the Democrats could close their presidential primary, no reason to risk independents embarrassing the president.

    Please Governor Brown, please don’t throw us Republicans in that Top 2 briar patch all by ourselves.

  4. tool

    Can someone start recalling these politicians? Those who author these bills need to be recalled. Let us start with Mike Gatto. This little tyrant wants to do away with initiative process. Check his website and video.
    http://www.asmdc.org/members/a43/
    It is time battle these politicians or we will loose what little we have in this state.

  5. Dave Kadlecek

    The proposal to stop counting the primary election as a statewide general election for purposes of voting on initiatives and referenda would be perfectly reasonable if (1) it didn’t have any effect on initiatives that had already been submitted for title and summary at the time of its effective date; and (2) some mechanism were provided by which initiative proponents could demand that a statewide special election be called in order to consider their initiative (which might be consolidated with a statewide primary election). As it is now, the only mechanism for getting a special election called to consider ballot measures is convincing the governor to call one, by bribes, threats and/or cogent arguments. For initiatives at the city or county level, proponents can require that a special election be called by asking for it and collecting more signatures.

    The rumored plan by legislative Democrats to prevent initiatives from being voted on at the June 2012 primary election is sneaky and underhanded, but so were the maneuvers by right-wing initiative proponents to get their initiatives that they hope to pass on a June ballot in which they expect a lower and more conservative turnout than for the November election. Why else did the legislative Republicans go along with moving the Presidential primary election back from February to June, even though it will probably make California Republicans less influential in their party’s nominating process?

    In any case, the Democrats have a somewhat more straightforward way to make June 2012 less friendly to right-wing initiatives. If they convince Dianne Feinstein to retire (and it really is about time, regardless of what you think of her politics; if she runs and is reelected, she’d be 85 at the end of her next term), then there will almost surely be a hotly contested primary for the open Senate seat, and the statewide voter turnout will not be so skewed to the right (especially if the Republican presidential nomination is decided before the June primary).

  6. Jim Riley

    #5 How is it sneaky to file a petition based on the which election you want the vote to occur?

    The Republicans are probably smart enough to know that having the combined primary will help them in the Top 2 primary.

  7. Thank you so much for covering this important issue. It is interesting that you’re highlighting that California is the only state where initiative and referendum votes are included in primary elections.

    The League of Women Voters of California is conducting a significant study of the initiative and referendum process. Our state study committee has formed; if you’re interested in this issue, we encourage you to think about joining a local League and participating in the study. Join one of the most trusted grassroots, volunteer-driven organizations in our state to encourage active and informed participation in democracy and make a real difference in our state.

    You can learn more in our new Facebook group or on our Web site.

    The state initiative and referendum study Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/141836292577638/

    The state initiative and referendum study committee: http://ca.lwv.org/lwvc/issues/initiative-and-referendum.html

  8. Richard Winger

    #7, thank you for your comment.

    The League of Women Voters of Washington state long ago studied top-two election systems, and determined to oppose the top-two system in that state. In fact, the League of Washington state authored the ballot pamphlet argument against top-two in the 2004 Washington state election. Is it time for the California League to study top-two. In fact that is way overdue.

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