CULVER CITY, CA - Following a year in which more money was
spent on ballot propositions than any year in California
history, often on ads that purposefully mislead voters,
Senator Henry Stern (D-Los Angeles) has introduced SB 90,
the Ballot DISCLOSE Act, to counteract the flood of
money by having the ballot itself list one of the most
important pieces of information voters want about state
ballot measures: who supports and opposes them.
Authored by Senator Stern and sponsored by the California
Clean Money Campaign, SB 90 will add a short list of the
supporters and opponents that signed the official arguments
for and against each state ballot measure in the voter
information guide to the current 75 word title, summary,
and fiscal analysis already shown on the ballot. A maximum
of 15 words describing the supporters and 15 words
describing the opponents will be added.
"The initiatives we vote on in California can be dense,
and easily misunderstood, especially when large dollar
campaigns are at play behind the scenes," said Senator
Stern. "We want to take voters behind the scenes on
their ballot and offer them a way to follow the money right
at the point of voting. Knowing who supports and opposes an
initiative tells you a lot about it, for better or for
worse. So rather than force voters to navigate the
misinformation on social media and the internet, we think
this information belongs in the ballot itself."
A poll conducted by the California Clean Money
Campaign of 661 likely November 2020 California voters
between July 22nd and August 22nd 2019 showed that an
overwhelming percentage of voters say it is important to
them to know who supports and opposes ballot measures when
they vote, but that most voters aren't confident they know
this information or think it's easy to find. SB 90
addresses this problem.
The poll found that 79% of likely voters
say it's important to them "to know who supports and
opposes ballot measures when they vote". These
results hold across the political spectrum with 84% of
Democrats, 80% of Republicans, and 70% of Independents
saying supporters and opponents were "Very important" or
"Somewhat important" to know. Despite the importance of
this information to the vast majority of voters, the poll
found that only 21% of likely voters were
very confident they knew the important supporters and
opponents of ballot measures when they vote.
These results probably explain why the poll also found that
75% of likely voters favor "adding to the
ballot a short list of the supporters and opponents of each
ballot proposition" -- precisely what SB 90 will do.
Support was across the board with 80% of Democrats, 72% of
Republicans, and 70% of Independents in favor.
SB 90 is similar to SB 636 (Stern) of 2019. That bill, also
sponsored by the California Clean Money Campaign, was
supported by the California League of Conservation Voters,
Consumer Watchdog, Courage California, Indivisible CA:
StateStrong, Maplight, and Voices for Progress, among
others. It passed the Senate on a bipartisan 31-5 vote but
was held in the Assembly.
"One of the most important pieces of information for
voters about ballot measures is which organizations support
or oppose them, because voters know that organizations they
trust have had the opportunity to study their ramifications
in ways the voters themselves usually haven't," said
Trent Lange, President of the California Clean Money
Campaign, sponsor of SB 90. "That's why we're so
thrilled Senator Stern is introducing the Ballot DISCLOSE
Act to provide that crucial information to voters when and
where it matters most -- on the ballot itself."
The bill will be assigned to the Senate Elections &
Constitutional Amendments Committee and will be heard
sometime in February or March.
"DISCLOSE" is an acronym for Democracy is Strengthened by
Casting Light on Spending in Elections.
The California Clean Money Campaign is a non-partisan
501(c)(3) organization that has been dedicated to educating
the public about the need to lessen the unfair influence of
Big Money on election campaigns since 2001. For further
information, visit www.CAclean.org.