Capitol Alert

California ballot measure numbers change twice in 28 hours

People protest during oral arguments in a campaign-finance case at the US Supreme Court in October 2013. Proposition 59 on California’s November 2016 ballot asks voters if the decision should be overturned.
People protest during oral arguments in a campaign-finance case at the US Supreme Court in October 2013. Proposition 59 on California’s November 2016 ballot asks voters if the decision should be overturned. MCT

Who knew that assigning a proposition number to California’s first advisory ballot measure in 34 years could be so complicated?

Over the span of about 28 hours, the Secretary of State’s Office released three sets of numbers for the 17 measures qualified for the Nov. 8 ballot – an initial list Friday, a corrected list later in the afternoon and a correction to the correction Saturday that mirrored the initial list.

“ICYMI: The CA marijuana legalization initiative was named Prop 64, then changed to Prop 63, but now it’s OFFICIALLY #Prop64!,” the Drug Policy Alliance tweeted its followers Tuesday morning.

Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation, said she suspects it’s the first time there have been multiple sets of proposition numbers. But she downplayed any impact on voters.

“It’s early July. There’s plenty of time to educate voters,” she said.

The source of the switcheroo? Senate Bill 254, which calls for a ballot measure asking voters if the state should try to overturn the Citizens United decision in 2010 that cleared the way for Super PAC spending in federal races.

The idea of a ballot question on Citizens United has been contentious from the start. The California Supreme Court removed a previous version from the November 2014 ballot, but later gave the Legislature the okay to put such advisory measures before voters. That led to SB 254, which passed the Legislature largely along party lines in late May and became law without Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature in early June.

All my rhymes would have had to change.

Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation

Friday, the bill emerged as Proposition 59, right after another Legislature-approved measure that deals with bilingual education in schools, and ahead of propositions 60 through 67.

The secretary of state’s office, though, then found a sentence near the end of SB 254 noting that it should be placed on the ballot “following all other ballot measures.” That changed Proposition 59 to Proposition 67, and subtracted one from propositions 60 through 67. Yet upon further review of the legislation, officials realized that the last-in-order placement applied only if the bill had passed after June 30. So it was back to the original order.

Alexander, who had ballot order No. 2 with her when she headed out of cell range for the July 4 weekend, said she’s just glad she didn’t start work on this year’s version of “The Proposition Song.”

“All my rhymes would have had to change,” she said.

California was the first state to allow medical marijuana. Now, two decades later, voters are expected to be asked whether to legalize recreational use of the drug. The legalization measure headed for the statewide November ballot is the product o

The ballot in November will ask the people of California if the state should require adult film performers to wear condoms during on-camera sexual intercourse. Implications to safety, healthcare, and the economy are all up for debate as the porn i

Jim Miller: 916-326-5521, @jimmiller2

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