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Sunday, July 14, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Prop. 14 Ballot Language Challenged

SACRAMENTO (CN) - A school union president says the ballot language for California's Proposition 14 is slanted to encourage passage in the June primary. Prop. 14, which would send the "top-two" vote-getters or "voter nominated" candidates to the general election, "eliminates the rights of political parties, eliminates the ability to consider independent or write-in candidates in the general election, and eliminates the requirement that candidates identify party preference," according to the complaint in Superior Court.

"Voters will have fewer options, not more," says plaintiff Allan Clark, president of the California Schools Employee Association.

In suing Secretary of State Debra Bowen, Clark says the language in the ballot pamphlet is "false, misleading, or otherwise not fair and impartial."

Clark says the ballot material "unlawfully attempts to use the ballot label and title and summary to persuade voters to adopt Proposition 14 using biased words and phrases that advocate for the measure's adoption rather than merely informing voters about its chief purpose."

Clarks says use of the "non-neutral" words "reform" and "reforming ... place a positive spin on the changes the measure would make."

The ballot language claims that Prop. 14 will promote greater participation in elections, but "nothing in the measure directly impacts voter turnout," Clark says.

He adds that the ballot materials "omit or conceal" information that would cause voters to have concerns about the measure.

The Elections Code requires the state attorney general to prepare a fair and impartial label, title and summary for all ballot measures, but "the Legislature overrode that requirement for Proposition 14 and instead crafted its own," the complaint states.

Bowen set a March 15 deadline for legal challenges to ballot materials for the June primary.

Clark seeks writ of mandate to force amendment of the ballot label, title and summary. He is represented by Deborah Caplan with Olson Hagel & Fishburn.

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