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November 03, 2009



who won?



Measures on page 2 and 3.

Account Deleted

Noticed this item on the consent agenda for tonite's Council meeting. Not exactly sure what the underlying intent is, but it seems like a maneuver to complicate, and thus possibly impede, the process of submitting an "argument against" a Burlingame ballot measure (particularly by a group of individuals, as opposed to a bona fide association).

Staff recommends that City Council adopt the attached resolution establishing a selection procedure when multiple ballot measure arguments are filed.

When the City calls for an election on a measure, interested individuals may file arguments with the city elections official (City Clerk) in favor of or against the measure.

Elections Code section 9287 states that only one argument in favor and one argument against the measure will be printed and distributed to the voters. In addition, Elections Code section 9287 states the hierarchy that the city elections official should follow if more than one argument in favor or against the measure is submitted:

In selecting the argument the city elections official shall give preference and priority, in the order named, to the arguments of the following:

(a) The legislative body, or member or members of the legislative body authorized by that body.
(b) The individual voter, or bona fide association of citizens, or combination of voters and associations, who are the bona fide sponsors or proponents of the measure.
(c) Bona fide associations of citizens.
(d) Individual voters who are eligible to vote on the measure.

The Elections Code establishes a hierarchy to use when more than one argument in favor or against a city measure is filed within the time prescribed. However, both the Elections Code and Municipal Code are silent on how to identify a bona fide association and what to do when more than one argument is filed of equal standing. Therefore, City Council should adopt the attached resolution to establish policy concerning the selection of arguments when more than one is qualified.

Pursuant to Elections Code section 9283, when a bona fide association files an argument it must contain “the name of the organization and the printed name and signature of at least one of its principal officers who is the author of the argument.” However, the code does not define bona fide association, nor does it state what if any documentation the bona fide association must provide the elections official to prove that it is a bona fide association. Moreover, a bona fide association of citizens’ argument is given priority over an individual voter who is eligible to vote on the measure.

Therefore, it is important to identify criteria for establishing a bona fide association of citizens. The resolution proposes that if a group wishes to submit an argument as a bona fide association, they must also submit one of the following: articles of incorporation, letterhead with the name of the organization and its principal officers, or some other written document indicating the same. The recommended requirement is used by Alameda, San Francisco and San Mateo County.

Staff also recommends that the City adopt the resolution to clarify how an argument will be chosen if more than one argument in favor or against is filed that is of equal standing. While, the Elections Code is silent on this issue, under section 15651 when an election for municipal office ends in a tie vote, the code determines who is elected by drawing lots. Accordingly, it is recommended that the City follow this same principle when determining which argument to print.


It is about as clear as mud.
If I understand, one must belong to a real group and nobody has the right to respond singularly to a measure or bond, etc.

Cathy Baylock

Here is my take on it...the elections code allows an "Association" to have priority over individuals in drafting opposing ballot language. It sounds like the CA is attempting to remove some ambiguity from the law so that a shell group cannot pre-empt an argument from an individual. I see this as a positive move...it levels the playing field for ballot arguments whether one is a group or individual. IMHO, this clarification does not seem in the least subversive in its reading and would actually benefit John Q Public who otherwise could be pre-empted by a "group" being formed to oppose or support a measure.

Account Deleted

Thanks Cathy - I assume the definition below from Nolo would qualify as a "bond fide" association (and not a shell group!).


Cathy Baylock

Hi Lorne, I am not sure we are agreeing or not! For example let's say Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. and John Q. Public both enter ballot arguments against a measure. Under the previous rules, HJTA would have priority and JQP would be second in line. With the "long straw" rule, both would have an equal chance at being chosen for the ballot circular. Is that your understanding?

Account Deleted

Cathy, that's not my understanding; here's the actual resolution that was passed by the Council:

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