California Secretary of State Debra Bowen today issued what might be described as a grudging press release, stating that the newest ballot proposition is being prepared for inclusion in a special, supplemental voter information guide. That measure is Proposition 1A, the Legislature's rewrite of the high-speed rail bond that had already been on the ballot as Proposition 1.
Because the Legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger thumbed their collective notices at the existing ballot deadline, Bowen's office will now spend an additional $5 million to print a second ballot pamphlet and mail it to voters. Voters will receive two pamphlets, one analyzing Proposition 1 and the other analyzing Proposition 1A. The actual ballot, however, will show only Proposition 1A, because ballots are printed later.
On the issue of frustration over missed deadlines, on this day Bowen has an ally in Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr of Georgia.
Barr sent an email to political reporters claiming that he will be "the only presidential candidate on the ballot in Texas." The reason: Republicans and Democrats each missed Texas' Aug. 26 deadline to submit names of candidates for the ballot.
Bowen lamented that she must do all this costly extra work because legislators have the power to make laws that allow them to ignore deadlines. Barr, too, realizes that the political powers in Texas will allow the two major parties to skirt that state's ballot deadline.
But Barr's campaign makes an excellent point: "When we miss deadlines, we get no second chances," said campaign manager Russell Verney. "Republicans and Democrats make certain that third party candidates are held to ballot access laws, no matter how absurd or unreasonable.Therefore, Republicans and Democrats should be held to the same standards."
The same argument applies to ballot measures. If a citizens' group turns in signatures too late, it cannot qualify a measure for the ballot. Perhaps legislators in California should be held to the same standard.