A glimpse of the policies, people, and politics of California state government, from John Myers of The California Report
A Hefty Redistricting Referendum
When the petition to overturn the new state Senate maps hits the streets this weekend, it's going to be not a page, but a packet.
Signature gatherers are being required to tote along not just a page for voter signatures, but also a copy of the formal resolution certifying the districts, the entire statewide map, and maps of all 40 Senate districts.... thus running as much as eight pages.
Attorney General Kamala Harris issued the official title and summary for the Senate redistricting referendum at midday today a fairly simple statement that says the proponents seek to overturn the districts drawn by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.
But Harris has also directed the campaign to have copies of the actual maps available for any voter who wants to see the districts for themselves.
On Monday, redistricting commissioners met by conference call to discuss the matter, and decided to ask the AG to require even more information be carried by signature gatherers: the maps plus the commission's official narrative for how they went about drawing the Senate boundaries. That request was apparently denied.
The commission's draft letter to the AG met with a sharp jab from California Republican Party chairman Tom Del Beccaro in a Tuesday letter.
"With due respect, the commission has no competence to opine on what is 'referendable,'" wrote Del Beccaro. "The Commission's draft letter smacks of an attempt to interfere with, and thwart, the referendum process," he wrote.
Del Beccaro's letter makes it clear that he believes the item subject to referendum is only the certified statewide map, not the additional documents.
On Wednesday, proponents submitted a modified referendum that includes the lengthy packet, after being requested to do so by the AG's office.
The cost of circulating a ballot measure, be it a referendum or an initiative, is borne by the proponents. Not that the extra pages is likely a huge cost, but in a campaign where fundraising may already be tight it's likely that every penny counts. So far, the committee has reported only about $117,000 in contributions -- mostly from five sitting GOP state senators -- but backers say more money is on the way. A referendum campaign means a lot of signatures in small amount of time, and it's not cheap; by way of example, the campaign to overturn the state's new online sales tax law has $5.25 million, all from online giant Amazon.
Dave Gilliard, the campaign manager for the effort, says he thinks the commission's request for the extra pages was a deliberate attempt to make the signature campaign both too expensive and "onerous" to pull off. Nonetheless, he says they'll make it work -- primarily because they're now printing double-sided pages of the maps, with one than one Senate district per side.