CA Secretary of State Told to Count Voter Signatures

Privacy for All Students
Wins Court Challenge
Pray for a Fair & Accurate Count

by William B. May

SAN FRANCISCO, January 2, 2013 -- Privacy for All Students reported that a Sacramento Superior Court judge, in a strongly worded tentative ruling, directed the California Secretary of State to count petitions submitted in two northern California counties for a referendum effort to nullify AB 1266, California's co-ed bathroom law. The signature gathering campaign to reverse the law had to go to court, because the Secretary of State had refused to count signatures from Tulare and Mono counties.

A total of 620,422 signatures were submitted by PFAS, the referendum campaign, on Sunday, November 11 -- 115,000 more than were needed. The final count by county registrars of voters has not yet been announced, but when duplicate signatures are excluded along with those from people who are not registered at the addresses provided, the referendum will either qualify or not by a narrow margin either way. Every valid signature needs to be counted.

When the petitions were submitted, it prevented the new law from taking effect on January 1 pending a finding of insufficient signatures or, if it qualifies, the outcome of the vote in the November 2014 election. Even though they had no authority to do so, the Secretary of State has advised school districts that AB 1266 has gone into effect, according to Privacy for All Students. They are advising school officials that this is not true. It is hard to tell if this is another example of a constitutional officer ignoring the law or an honest mistake. The new law, AB 1266, permits elementary and high school students to choose which bathrooms, shower rooms or locker facilities they want to use depending on their “gender identity”.

The problems in both counties resulted from the statutory filing deadline falling on a Sunday in the middle of Labor Day weekend. Privacy For All Students delivered petitions to both Tulare and Mono counties by courier on Friday and Saturday, ahead of the deadline. "In Tulare County, mail room personnel initially refused to accept the petitions from a courier," said PFAS. "In Mono County the package was delivered but not opened for a number of days. While each of the counties reported the signatures to State elections officials, the Secretary of State refused to count any of the signatures submitted in these counties."

Ironically, Judge Allen Sumner concluded in his opinion that PFAS actually had until Tuesday, November 12 to file the petitions, due to the weekend and the Monday holiday. However, the Secretary of State told them that they only had until Sunday to file. More signatures could have been filed if the Secretary of State had provided accurate information.

"It is a shame that we had to go to court to assure that the citizens of Tulare and Mono would not be disenfranchised by the arbitrary actions of the Secretary of State," said Gina Gleason, proponent of the referendum.

"The process of collecting 504,760 valid signatures in 90 days is tough enough. But the Secretary of State seemed determined to shorten the time we were given wherever possible," said Karen England, a spokesperson for PFAS.

At this point, the only thing to do at this point is to pray that no more mischief occurs during the counting process, and an adequate number of signatures will finally be verified.  

William B. May is President of Catholic for the Common Good.

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