California Electors Right to Call for Constitutional Convention Act (2010)
|Not on Ballot|
| This measure did not or |
will not appear on a ballot
The proposed measure would have amended the California Constitution to permit voters to place on the ballot the question of whether to call a convention to revise the California Constitution. Supporters also wanted to give voters a chance on the same ballot to go ahead and call a limited convention, and that effort was also terminated in mid-February.
The proposed but unsuccessful initiative was given an official ballot title and ballot summary on December 22, 2009, with a circulation deadline of May 21, 2010. Supporters must collect a minimum of 694,354 signatures.
In mid-February 2010, supporters of the measure first indicated that their effort was in danger of not being able to collect the signatures it would need to qualify for the November ballot because they had not so far been able to attract the needed funds to conduct a large-scale paid signature-gathering effort, and then they ultimately said the project was dead.
If a constitutional convention had been held under the terms of this initiative, it would have:
- Convened in 2011
- Met for several months
- Prepared a new California Constitution that would go before the state's voters in 2012.
- There are several different ways delegates to the convention might have been chosen.
- Jim Wunderman filed the ballot language with the California Secretary of State.
- The Bay Area Council, a group of business executives, was the primary sponsor of the proposed ballot initiative. They supported efforts to hold a California constitutional convention for some time through educational efforts such as a February 2009 summit/gathering on the subject in Sacramento.
- Repair California also supported the call for a constitutional convention.
Repair California raised $352,000 in 2009. Spokesman John Grubb said the organization had received $2 million in commitments from donors to support the petition drives to qualify the two measures the group is supporting for the November 2, 2010 ballot.
- Thomas Elias. He said the measure is "backed by Google and other high-tech giants that finance the Bay Area Council business lobby" and urged that people refrain from signing the petition to put it on the ballot. He said, "Why is this a bad idea? For one thing, despite sponsors' pious claims that their measure would limit action by that convention to fixing the state's budget and ballot initiative processes, cutting the influence of special interests on elections and government, bettering relations between state and local governments and making government more efficient, there's room here for enormous mischief."
A poll conducted by EMC Research for Repair California in mid-September 2009 found that 69% of approximately 1,000 polled voters said they would vote "yes" on the question of whether California voters should be allowed to call a constitutional convention. 71% also said they would then vote "yes" on calling a constitutional convention.
Path to the ballot
The initiative was cleared for circulation with a deadline of May 21, 2010.
Repair California said that their effort to collect the required signatures for this measure and for Call for a Convention, its companion measure, ran into a petition blocking effort. They accused five petition drive management companies in the state of being behind an effort to stop them from being able to collect signatures. The activities they said they had learned of included "shouting down their volunteers, destroying valid signatures and intentionally submitting fake signatures."
Repair California sent cease-and-desist letters to several firms it believed had engaged in these activities, including:
- American Petition Consultants
- National Petition Management
- Kimball Petition Management.
- Progressive Campaigns, Inc.
- Masterson & Wright, which denied the allegation.
Fred Kimball of Kimball Petition Management said that he opposed the initiatives and indicated to a newspaper that he had warned "the independent supervisors who manage signature-gatherers that he will blacklist them if they work for the constitutional-convention measures."
Bob Stern of the Center for Governmental Studies said, "This is the first time I have heard of the petition firms taking a position on an initiative in this way. These firms typically won't circulate two competing measures, which makes sense, but they rarely turn down business."
Ballot title: Allows Voters to Place Question of Calling a Constitutional Convention on the Ballot. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.
Summary: Amends the Constitution to permit voters to place on the ballot the question of whether to call a convention to revise the state Constitution. Permits any ballot measure calling a convention to specify the parts of the Constitution that the convention can or cannot revise. Requires any ballot measure calling a convention to specify the process for selection of convention delegates. Repeals requirement that convention delegates be elected by voters. Permits voters to call a convention no more than once every ten years.
Estimated fiscal impact: Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: No direct fiscal impact, as any effect would depend on whether and how voters used the power to call and accept the recommendations of a constitutional convention in the future. Potentially major fiscal changes in state and local governments could result. (09-0066.)
- California Call for a Limited Constitutional Convention (2010)
- California constitutional convention
- California signature requirements
- Text of October 28, 2009 letter requesting a ballot title
- Repair California, website advocating a constitutional convention
- Los Angeles Times, "California constitutional convention push fizzles," February 13, 2010
- Ventura County Star, "Constitutional convention effort near collapse," February 10, 2010
- Inside Bay Area, "Alameda County Board of Supervisors push for state government overhaul," October 22, 2009
- Modesto Bee, "Dan Walters: California faces moment of decision," July 5, 2009
- Capitol Weekly, "The death of reform," February 4, 2010
- Redding Record-Searchlight, "Just say no to signature gatherers," November 3, 2009
- Reuters, "Californians Would Vote to Authorize and Call Constitutional Convention, New Statewide Poll of 1000 Voters Finds," September 16, 2009
- Contra Costa Times, "Constitutional Convention advocates cry foul," February 5, 2010
- Pleasanton Weekly, "Constitutional convention backers claim organized groups blocking them," February 11, 2010
- The Economist, "Sign here," February 4, 2010
- CA SOS - Initiatives approved for circulation