With mail ballots set to arrive at California voters’ homes starting this week, the gas tax repeal campaign recently sent out 2 million leaflets that “correct” the ballot title and description for its initiative.
The official ballot title for Proposition 6 — which begins “Eliminates Certain Road Repair and Transportation Funding” — has caused much consternation for its supporters.
The measure is trailing by a wide margin, according to a recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California. Proposition 6 campaign supporters blame the state attorney general’s office for writing a summary that they believe conceals what the initiative would really do: Reverse recent increases to fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees.
“The politicians are trying to deceive the voters,” said Carl DeMaio, chairman for Yes on Prop 6. “They are trying to bully voters into approving a measure that costs them more.”
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The plain, black-and-white mailer warns voters that the ”sample ballot that was mailed to you contained a title for one of the statewide Propositions that is misleading and could be confusing to voters.”
“The correct title for Proposition 6 should read: Proposition 6: Gas Tax Repeal Initiative,” the mailer states. On the back, explanations for “what it means to vote yes” and “what it means to vote no” suggest that revenue from the “unfair gas and car tax hikes” will be used for just about everything except the road repairs and transportation projects they were passed to fund.
At the bottom, a small disclaimer from the campaign is the only indication that the mailer is not from election officials.
Matt Cate, co-chairman for No on Prop 6, denounced the mailer as an “attempt to fool voters.” He said the campaign is “considering all options,” including whether to file a complaint with California’s political ethics watchdog agency.
“It’s inappropriate to craft a fake message from the registrar of voters,” Cate said. “It frankly smells of desperation.”
DeMaio brushed off the criticisms. Though supporters of Proposition 6 have a much smaller war chest at their disposal than the opposition, they plan to put their resources toward more of the mailers.
“As much money as we raise, we’re going to keep correcting the record,” DeMaio said.