SB-660, Prohibiting Pay-Per-Signature Incentives, would “eliminate the corrosive practice of paying per-signature bounties to professional signature gatherers who work for partisan organizations,” an industry whose employees have been repeatedly accused of making false claims to prospective voters. The bill would not prohibit paying signature-gatherers an hourly wage or salary, as long as it’s not based on the number of signatures obtained. This reform might also slow down the relentless and expensive tide of recall elections.
(Note: For those of who wonder why we can’t just ban all types of paid signature gatherers outright, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated Colorado’s ban on them in the Meyer vs. Grant, 486 U.S. 414 (1988) decision.)
This bill has passed both chambers of the CA legislature and is now sitting on Newsom’s desk.
However, he is NOT a lock on signing it. In fact “every recent governor has vetoed at least one version of the proposal. When he vetoed a 2019 ban on per-signature payments, Newsom said, “While I appreciate the intent of this legislation to incentivize grassroots support for the initiative process, I believe this measure could make the qualification of many initiatives cost-prohibitive, thereby having the opposite effect.”
However, we disagree. Sen. Henry Stern argued that in a similar 2018 bill, per-signature payments incentivize gatherers to use misleading or underhanded tactics to get pen on paper. “This practice degrades the integrity of our direct democracy and our initiative process, because the behavior is based on the bounty hunter’s bottom-line.” Seven states already manage to survive without them. Why not us?
And now that he’s survived a recall attempt, Governor Newsom may be having second thoughts. Let’s ask.
Minimum call/email script: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Governor Newsom to make CA the eighth state to ban pay-per-signature gatherers by signing SB 660 into law. Signature-gathering firms paying a bounty for each signature create an incentive to both illegally misinform voters and to forge names. Their presence creates distrust and confusion in the initiative process and should no longer be allowed.
Governor Gavin Newsom: email, (916) 445-2841
[You can add on more information about pay-per-signature scandals from your own county. Here’s a sampling of ones that made the news.]
VENTURA RESIDENTS: This issue hits close to home for us Ventura County residents. Paid–signature gatherers on the payroll of oil companies helped to stop, at least temporarily, new operating rules that would protect local front line communities and our land and water from older and more hazardous industry practices. Four local environmental organizations alleged that these signature gatherers provided false and misleading information to prospective petition signers. Now county voters will have to pay for an election to enforce the very sensible ruling of our Board of Supervisors, an elected body that already represents our interests.Continue reading “Tell Newsom to sign SB-660 and stop the scourge of pay-per-signature gatherers in CA!”