Many perspectives, 1 simple etiquette

Drafting Error Causing "Full Voter Participation Act" Confusion

Author: Jeff Powers
Created: 18 June, 2018
Updated: 21 November, 2022
3 min read

San Diego, CA- A scramble is underway in Sacramento to correct a bill drafting error that set an incorrect signature threshold for the Full Voter Participation Act (FVPA), a measure that could change elections for San Diego County.

The FVPA was scheduled to be put on the ballot this November, but that certainty is gone.

The measure would do for the county what Measure K did for the city, eliminate the 50%+1 rule and move elections to the November General election when the most voters participate.

Here's essentially what happened:

Assemblyman Todd Gloria and the legislative counsel in Sacramento, penned a bill that stated the FVPA needs to be signed by 10% of the qualified electors in the county, or ALL voters.

That translates to 165,984 valid signatures, far more than what state law requires which is 10% of voters who turned out in the previous election, roughly 67,000 valid signatures.

Supporters turned in 103,328 signatures, substantially more than what they thought would be required.

Or so they thought.

County Registrar Sends Letter

Last week San Diego County Registrar of Voters Michael Vu sent a letter to the proponents of the FVPA saying they had not reached the signature threshold.

Vu's Determination letter: 

Vu told IVN San Diego, "I sent a letter saying there was an insufficient number of signatures that were submitted. What was submitted after we did the raw count was 103,328 signatures but based of the current law that's found in the government code section 23725, the total number of required signatures was a minimum of 165,984."

Vu has followed the law and is now waiting to hear back from Sacramento. "It really rests in the hands of the legislature and the governor. First to amend that section of the code, and then sign off of it. From there is my understanding is it will take effect immediately based on what the amendments to the bill calls for."

Time Becomes An Issue

Now Gloria and the legislature must act quickly fix the drafting mistake. Once the fix is in and voted on by the legislature, Governor Brown will sign it. Then, according to the FVPA folks, it's back to Vu to prep for November.

Or so they hope.

The date they have circled is August 7, that's the deadline date to get the bill to the Board of Supervisors for sign off in order to get it on the November General election.

David Lagstein is the Political Director for SEIU Local 221. Lagstein told IVN San Diego, "The first issue is we believe he (Vu) misinterpreted the law. There was a drafting error but we believe the legislative intent was not to change the signatures to qualify for an initiative."

Lagstein continued, "The concern that we have was the County Registrar's early decision with this matter was a politically driven decision due to pressure by the Board of Supervisors. We believe if the legislation is signed by Governor Jerry Brown, we believe there is plenty of time to get this on the November ballot, which is what the 103,000 voters thought they were signing."

Lagstein believes Vu should have waited his full 30 days before issuing his letter. He says Gloria's fix will be done in days, and Lagstein says, this whole mess could have been avoided.

The Push To Oust Supervisor Gaspar

Supervisor Gaspar's Chief of Staff Dustin Steiner has emphasized to IVN San Diego that Lagstein makes political charges that "aren't based in fact." Steiner noted that no one in Gaspar's office has had any contact with Michael Vu or anyone else at the Registrar’s office on this matter.

Some have argued that the real reason Lagstein and the Dems are in a rush to fix their admitted error, is to make sure the FVPA impacts the 2020 District 3 Supervisor race.

The thinking goes that by forcing Supervisor Kristin Gaspar to the November General election, where more people vote than the June primary, she will be vulnerable.  Democrats have control of the City Council and are looking to do the same at the county. They believe this strategy helps them achieve that dominance.