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Electoral College Reform Watch: California Counts

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Yesterday morning Flap wrote about the two initiatives circulating to change the California Presidential Electoral College vote distribution for the 2008 election cycle.

Flap was initially confused because of the two circulating initiatives.

The first one was filed by Tony Andrade of Electoral Reform California:

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The second initiative was filed by Thomas Hiltachk who has subsequently withdrawn from the campaign:

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So, what is the status TODAY of the initiative campaign to change California’s Electoral College vote allocation from the current “WINNER TAKE ALL” system to one apportioned by Congressional Districts – such as how the California GOP apportions its national convention’s delegates.

Flap had the pleasure to talk to Tony Andrade yesterday evening. Here is the poop:

1. The two initiative campaigns have joined around the Hiltachek initiative forming California Counts. The California Counts web site is here.

2. Although the deadline for filing of the Hiltachek initiative singatures (to qualify for the ballot) is February 2008, the deadline for the California Secretary of State to place the initiative on the June 2008 state ballot is either November 13 or may be extended by a couple of weeks – meaning the end of November.

Also, yesterday afternoon, Jon Fleishman had this info:

  • We have gathered a total of nearly 400,000 signatures (300,000 over the last two weeks). Our paid signature effort is proving enormously successful – so much so that we were able to decrease the price we are paying circulators on the street – an almost unprecedented situation for an initiative campaign working on deadline.
  • We are getting thousands of signatures from the internet, thanks to a massive internet/email campaign from Congressman Darrell Issa.
  • The California Republican Party and our CalCounts Committee have mailed petitions to a total of over 750,000 households statewide.
  • Our volunteer signature efforts and $2 bounty program are starting to produce signatures and we expect some big returns from that program over the next couple of weeks.
  • Polling continues to show that Californians support our Initiative. A new SurveyUSA poll shows that only 34% of voters want to keep the current winner-take-all system, while 47% support choosing delegates by congressional district. The more voters are informed about the initiative, the stronger they support it.

There you have it.

The initiative campaign is alive and well and the prospects of its passage in June 2008 are good.

Flap will have more on the initiative campaign and report as events occur.

In the meantime, Flap URGES everyone to go over to the California Counts site and download a petition (if you are a California voter) or give the campaign a few bucks (there is no limit).

Stay tuned………

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3 thoughts on “Electoral College Reform Watch: California Counts

  1. Electoral Reform Initiative is CONSTITUTIONAL and liberals are full of baloney!
    by James Lacy, Attorney -Politcal Law
    There is a report in the Sacramento Bee that Art Torres, Chair of the California Democratic Party, is claiming that the PERA initiative, O7-0032 which would reform California’s apportionment of electoral college votes to recognize regional diversity and make our state relevant again in Presidential elections, is unconstitutional.
    That position is a bunch of baloney.
    Long established U.S. Supreme Court case law (see Smiley v. Holm, 285 U.S. 355
    (1931) and Davis v. Hildebrant, 241 U.S. 565 (1911) ) provide strong logic and support for the initiative. Those cases establish rock-solid support for the proposition that the word “legislature” in Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution, dealing with apportionment of Congressional districts for election purposes, includes the lawmaking process in the state as determined by its particular “polity.”
    In these cases, “legislature” in Article 1 was interpreted to include not only the state legislature itself, but the full lawmaking process, including the Governor’s veto, and the people’s power of referendum.
    In California, all power, including the power to act as the “legislature,” is reserved to the people in our state constitution. The “polity” of our lawmaking process includes initiatives, and the initiative process in California was placed in the state constitution about the time of the Smiley and Davis cases. Court’s are compelled to follow Supreme Court precedent, and there is very strong logic that the same analysis actually applied by the Supreme Court under Article 1 to Congressional elections will be applied under a review of the “California Counts” initiative under Article 2 for Presidential elections of the Constitutionally coequal Executive branch. In other words, these same rules apply to the coequal Congressional and Executive Powers, and if the Supreme Court already has determined that referenda is action of the “legislature” in Ohio (under Article 1), then Courts will find that initiative is action of the “legislature” in California (under Article 2).
    Loyola Law Professor Rick Hasen is quoted in the article. Rick provides a fine service for election lawyers through his blog. And Rick is a brilliant lawyer. Rick states the law accurately in the news report. Rick tries to be neutral, but he has been associated with liberal legal causes in the past, and I believe he has greatly underplayed the Article 1/Article 2 “coequal” analysis, which is such a strong argument that even reluctant observers who understand the law should agree that even in a close call (which it is not), the likelihood is a reviewing court will uphold the California Counts initiative, and California will be relevant again in Presidential elections.

    MORE
    The Federal Constitution states at Article II, Section 1 that states shall “appoint, in any manner as the Legislature therof may direct, a Number of Electors” for the purpose of electing the President and Vice-President of the United States.
    The California Constitution empowers the people of the state at Article II with “all inherent political power” to act as the legislature through the initiative process to “propose statutes and amendments…” and to “adopt or reject them.”
    In California, the Legislature is not the exclusive source of legislative power; the constitution also includes the people’s powers of initiative and referendum. Professional Engineers in California Government v. Kempton (2007) 56 Cal.Rptr.3d 814, 40 Cal.4th 1016, 155 P.3d 226.
    The people’s reserved power of initiative is greater than power of the legislature.
    Rossi v. Brown (1995) 38 Cal.Rptr.2d 363, 9 Cal.4th 688, 889 P.2d 557.
    All presumptions favor the validity of initiative measures. California Family Bioethics Council v. California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (App. 1 Dist. 2007) 55 Cal.Rptr.3d 272, 147 Cal.App.4th 1319, review denied. The initiative power must be liberally construed to promote the democratic process. California Assn. of Retail Tobacconists v. State of California (App. 4 Dist. 2003) 135 Cal.Rptr.2d 224, 109 Cal.App.4th 792, review denied. The voters’ power to decide whether or not the Legislature can amend or repeal initiative statutes is absolute and includes the power to enable legislative amendment subject to conditions attached by the voters.
    Professional Engineers in California Government v. Kempton (2007) 56 Cal.Rptr.3d 814, 40 Cal.4th 1016, 155 P.3d 226.
    The Presidential Elector Reform Initiative is a needed reform that will guarantee that California’s diversity will be represented in the Electoral College, and also make California relevant in the presidenital election process. Other states, such as Maine and Nebraska, have similar laws. The proposed California initiative, as stated above, is also strongly supported by the legal authorities and the Federal and state constitution.
    All voters need to do to make this necessary reform happen is
    sign the petition and then vote “Yes” in June!
    For Petitions and more information call 916-230-2123

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