In 1911, California voters secured a Constitutional right to use “citizen initiatives” to place items on the ballot to impose reform on their politicians. The citizen initiative, and the companion right to recall politicians from office, is a vitally important right that serves as the ultimate check on state and local government.
The Rights of Citizens to Initiatives and Recalls Is Under Attack
Unfortunately, California’s politicians have found a way to strip citizens of both our Initiative and Recall rights!
State Attorney General Xavier Becerra has repeatedly issued false and misleading titles for proposed citizen initiatives that he and fellow state politicians disagree with – and shockingly favorable titles for initiatives placed on the ballot by politicians.
For example, in the 2018 election the Attorney General changed the title of Proposition 6 from the “Gas Tax Repeal Initiative” to “Eliminates Road Repair Funding.” Voters were so confused that they voted against an initiative that the public polling showed was favored by a 2:1 margin.
The Attorney General has shown again he’s willing to outright lie about the contents of a citizen initiative – all in an attempt to defraud voters of an honest and fair election.
Here’s an analogy to explain the problem with politicians being allowed to slap erroneous titles on citizen initiatives they disagree with: suppose you make a wonderful turkey sandwich with all the fixings and put a toothpick in the sandwich. When he’s asked to describe the item on a menu, the state Attorney General titles it “A Big Plank of Wood.” No one would order that to eat, and the same is true of voters evaluating a ballot measure.
Protecting the Initiative and Recall Process
Reform California believes it is time we take away the power of politicians to manipulate the title of a citizen initiative and instead give the responsibility to a neutral and independent body. Voters deserve the simple truth, not a political agenda, when voting on ballot measures.
In 2017, state politicians passed a law extending out the timeline for a recall of a politician in an effort to make the process so expensive, complicated, and lengthy as to make it nearly impossible to get a recall initiative qualified for a public vote. The process is so drawn out that the effect of this law is to eliminate the power of recalling any State Assemblymember. Reform California is currently supporting a legal challenge to this law.