A Sacramento Superior Court Judge has ordered the California Secretary of State’s office to count petition signatures that anti-trans activists had submitted in two counties in their effort to repeal a new law designed to protect transgender students.
Assembly Bill 1266 went into effect January 1. The Privacy for All Students coalition hopes it’s submitted enough signatures to get a referendum before voters in November 2014 that would undo the law.
The law aims to make sure that transgender youth can fully participate in all school activities, sports teams, programs, and facilities that match their gender identity. Gay Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) authored the bill, which Governor Jerry Brown signed into law in August.
The anti-trans coalition filed a lawsuit in December, claiming in a news release that “the secretary of state is unfairly refusing to count any of the signatures presented to Tulare or Mono counties in support of a referendum to overturn” AB 1266. (Those counties’ registrars of voters are also defendants in the suit.)
The group missed the deadlines that had been established for submitting signatures in the two counties, but the coalition essentially claimed it wasn’t at fault.
Ann Turner, the Tulare County registrar’s elections division manager, recently said her agency ultimately received the coalition’s signatures, and a raw count showed the activists had submitted 4,889 signatures. The office reported that “rough estimate” to the secretary of state’s office, which called for a random sampling, she said. Out of the 500 signatures sampled, 79.2 percent, or 396, were considered valid. That figure was reported to the secretary of state, which made the “determination to record a zero” for the county, according to Turner.
Mono County Registrar Lynda Roberts said just after the lawsuit was filed that she wasn’t aware of it and couldn’t comment.
Evan Goldberg, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office, said Friday (January 3), “The judge ruled that the signatures from those two counties must be counted, even though they were delivered after the deadline. The secretary of state has decided to comply with the judge’s order.”
In the coalition’s news release, referendum proponent Gina Gleason stated, “It is a shame that we had to go to court to assure that the citizens of Tulare and Mono would not be disenfranchised by the arbitrary actions of the secretary of state.”
According to the coalition, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Allen Sumner “concluded that PFAS actually had until Tuesday, November 12, to file the petitions, due to the weekend and the Monday holiday.” Officials had held that the deadline was November 10.
Elections staff are currently performing random sample verification of the signatures, and that process will be completed by January 8.
The coalition must ultimately reach 504,760 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. If they reach 110 percent of that by January 8, or 555,237 signatures, the referendum qualifies, and the new law will be suspended until November. Otherwise, if the coalition just reaches 95 percent of the lower number, a full count of the signatures will be ordered, and the law will not be suspended until the referendum qualifies.
If the random samples determine the coalition only hits 95 percent, or 479,522 signatures, then the referendum won’t qualify. The coalition submitted more than 600,000 petition signatures to elections officials last month.