Capitol Alert

‘Voter’s choice’ spikes turnout + New crime measures cleared

Ballots for the November election are now available, and for the second time this year, voters in five of California’s 58 counties — Sacramento, Madera, Napa, Nevada and San Mateo — will see one in their mailboxes without asking.

The experiment that began at the June primary election as a result of Senate Bill 450 in 2014 produced positive results, according to most election officials and experts. More research is underway.

Sending everyone a ballot in the mail and replacing neighborhood polling places with regional centers likely contributed to increased turnout figures in the five counties and statewide, compared to the rock-bottom voter participation numbers recorded at the last gubernatorial primary in 2014. Most of the counties also posted better participation numbers than gubernatorial primaries in 20010 and 2006.

“Each of the five exceeded the statewide average,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla said at a press conference Tuesday. “Turnout is up. We think the convenience as well as the security of the Voters Choice Act is showing good results so far.”


The past eight years have brought massive change to California’s criminal justice system, from a realignment plan to unstuff California’s unconstitutionally overcrowded prisons to a new law that will prevent courts from charging 14- and 15-years-olds as adults. While the shift reflects the state’s increasingly liberal political leadership and voter base, it has inspired a growing backlash from law enforcement. Last fall, police and prosecutors introduced an initiative to scale back two recent propositions that they argue have emboldened repeat offenders and caused crime rates to skyrocket.

On Wednesday, the Secretary of State cleared two more measures to begin gathering signatures for the 2020 ballot. They would repeal prison realignment and another law that requires cops to collect demographic data for suspects they stop and search. Both were introduced by retired San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Averbeck, who said the laws are making it harder for officers to do their jobs. Though he doesn’t yet have support from any major law enforcement groups, he’s hopeful that police unions will get involved with his campaign and boost the proposals.

Curious about what's happening at the Capitol?

So are we. Every day, reporters at The Sacramento Bee are investigating and researching the business of politics in California, breaking down the stories, the constituencies and the impacts of these decisions so you don’t have to.
  • We explain how Capitol dealmaking affects your pocketbook, your job and your family.
  • We hold California politicians and state agencies accountable with in-depth watchdog reporting.
  • We deliver crystal clear, vital information to help inform how you might vote on specific issues or candidates.
Stay informed. Take advantage of a 99-cents offer for your first month of access to The Sacramento Bee.


The next episode of California Nation is out! On the show, we share the sounds of the ongoing DMV/Motor Voter nightmare, and congressional combatants Jessica Morse and Tom McClintock sit down for separate discussions on the issues in the 4th CD. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, Google Play Music and SoundCloud.

California Nation Podcast Feeds


Seeing a lot of back and forth on TV about Proposition 8, the measure to cap fees at private dialysis clinics? As of Wednesday, the dialysis clinic industry had collected more than $99 million in campaign funds to oppose the measure. Supporters, led by Service Employees Union International — United Healthcare Workers West, have posted about $17 million in contributions.


Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher (@LorenaSGonzalez)

Can someone tell Carl DeMaio if he wants to debate an issue with me, he might want to unblock me. I know he’s sensitive to my criticism of him and his craziness, but it’s kinda silly to “page” me if he knows he has me blocked & I can’t respond.


Did Jerry Brown make the right decisions on #metoo bills? Influencers have plenty to say.

“Governor Brown failed to recognize and address the struggle of low wage, immigrant women in service industries who toil in the face of harassment, intimidation, retaliation every day.”

Angie Wei, chief of staff, California Labor Federation


Ben Boychuk: We used to believe in a democratic republic, we put “ballots over bullets.” Today, votes are the equivalent of violence. It’s remarkable to hear Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party’s 2016 presidential nominee, effectively endorse that point of view. No civility is possible until Democrats win.

TOONED OUT: Jack Ohman feels Mitch McConnell’s pain.