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What new signature requirements will mean for future California state ballot initiatives




Mailed in ballots sit in US Postal Service bins inside the office of the Stanislaus County Clerk on November 6, 2018 in Modesto, California.
Mailed in ballots sit in US Postal Service bins inside the office of the Stanislaus County Clerk on November 6, 2018 in Modesto, California.
Alex Edelman/Getty Images

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In the state of California, the number of signatures required to qualify a measure for the ballot is based on the number of votes cast in the gubernatorial race.

Petitioners must collect signatures equal to eight percent of the most recent gubernatorial vote for initiated constitutional amendments. While signatures equal to five percent of this vote are required to place a statute or veto referendum on the ballot. According to the latest numbers, 9,920,209 people voted in the governor’s race, where Democrat Gavin Newsom won over Republican John Cox. Due to this voter turnout, the signature threshold for future ballot initiatives rose from 365,880 to 615,000 for statutes and from 585,407 to 984,000 for constitutional amendments. The rise in signature requirements will make efforts to qualify future propositions more expensive.

The change will make it harder for individuals to get their initiatives on the ballot. Meanwhile, those who can afford to fund their initiatives will have a clear advantage over those with limited resources. Some analysts say limiting initiatives on the ballot is a good thing as numerous ballot measures confuse the average voter. We discuss what the new signature requirements for ballot measures are and what does it mean to Californians.

Guest:

Fernando Guerra, professor and director of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University; he is a member of the Southern California Public Radio Board of Trustees