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Anti-vax referendum: Voters’ inclination to vote 'No' could undo mandatory vaccines

by AirTalk®

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Parents rally against SB 277, a California measure requiring schoolchildren to get vaccinated, outside the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Opponents of mandatory vaccination have started collecting petition signatures for a referendum that would appear on the November 2016 ballot.

If it qualifies, voters would need to vote "Yes" for a new vaccination law to stay on the books (the California Constitution mandates that referenda on Sacramento legislation must ask voters to affirm [vote “Yes”] in order to pass.)

The new law aims to boost immunization rates by requiring that children be vaccinated to attend public or private daycare or school. The law eliminates exemptions based on personal beliefs and religion, while maintaining a medical exemption.

Election analysts say voters are more inclined to vote "No" on referenda - no matter the question -, which means the vaccination bill's future could be vulnerable.

Will voters be confused by this referendum? How much lobbying power and campaign financing does it take to get voters to punch "Yes?" Should governance of initiatives and referenda be reformed? If lawmakers, representing the people, pass a new bill, but special interest groups want to see its undoing, should a referendum instead ask voters to veto it (vote “No”) in order for the bill to die?

Referendum of Senate Bill 277


Bob Stern, former president of the Center for Governmental Studies; Author of the book “Democracy by Initiative: Shaping California’s Fourth Branch of Government, 2nd Edition. (Center for Governmental Studies, 2008)

Pamela Behrsin, Vice President of Communications and Editorial Director at MapLight which tracks campaign financing

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