In a major setback to California voters, a Sacramento Superior Court judge ruled in favor of a motion by California to squelch subpoenas that sought records to verify that signatures had suspiciously been invalidated by the California Secretary of State in the referendum drive to overturn the California State Legislature’s intrusive Co-ed Bathroom Bill.
Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) and representative of parents and concerned citizens who sponsored the initiative, said:
We disagree with this lower court’s decision, and we intend to challenge it by filing a writ so that we have the adequate opportunity to hold the government accountable for how they invalidated over 130,000 signatures. We know for a fact that egregious errors have been made, and we’ll exhaust all legal remedies in order to ensure every valid signature is counted.
Of the roughly 620,000 signatures submitted to qualify the referendum, an extraordinary total of over 130,000 were thrown out. The Privacy for All Students Coalition (PFAS) reviewed many disqualified signatures and found abuse of discretion and arbitrary decisions by election officials, as well as disparaging inequalities for those who are blind or elderly. In what should have been a tip-off to the court that politics were involved in throwing out these signatures, Matt McReynolds, one of PJI’s lead attorneys on the case, was surprised to find out his own signature was thrown out because it didn’t match the one on file–something unfortunately plausible, as he has gone blind over these last few years and cannot see what he writes with a pen.
According to McReynolds:
Imagine my surprise and outrage when I learned recently that one of the signatures tossed out by elections officials reviewing our petitions … was my own. You read that correctly–a petition from one of the key backers of the referendum, more familiar than most with the rules, was not good enough to satisfy elections workers here in Sacramento County. So what did I do wrong? The explanation was that my signature didn’t look exactly like it had on my registration card. And you know what? They’re probably right; my signature has undoubtedly changed over the last few years as I have become totally blind and no longer able to see what I’ve written. That’s a long story that I’ll save for another day. But my disability shouldn’t prevent me from participating in such a core function of democracy as signing a referendum petition.
PJI President Dacus, lead counsel in Gleason v. Bowen, said that although the Privacy for All Students Coalition was surprised and disappointed by the ruling, it intends to seek to uphold the rights of all valid voters who signed the petition to protect California’s children and students.
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