Commentary: Late Legislature Blows Ballot Deadlines

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, September 5, 2008

When California voters get their voter pamphlets in a few weeks, they will see Proposition 1, a high speed rail bond measure. But Proposition 1 won’t be on the November ballot. It’s been scrapped in favor of Proposition 1A, a slightly different rail bond measure.

The governor and legislators missed the statutory deadline to get the new proposition 1A into the ballot pamphlet. No matter, they just waive state law.
But state and local elections officials have no such power. By law they have to begin printing ballot pamphlets 80 days before the November election.

Proposition 1A will appear on a supplemental ballot pamphlet to be printed and mailed out separately at a cost to taxpayers of $5 million dollars. All because the legislature and the governor dilly-dallied.

Cost is not the only concern here. The rush to put Proposition 1A on the ballot puts more strain on local elections officials just as they are preparing for another crucial presidential vote. It increases the risk of error – the chance that some voters will be disenfranchised this November. And all this because the legislature and the governor missed their deadline – again.


Ginger Rutland writes for The Sacramento  Bee opinion pages.