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December 3, 2008

California's 2/3 Requirement Hobbles Democracy

-- by Dave Johnson

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California

In Santa Clara County they want to extend Bay Area Rapid Transit down to San Jose. To fund this they put Measure B, a 1/8 cent sales tax, on the ballot. In California all tax measures must pass by a 2/'3 margin and on Election Day the voters approved Measure B by a 2/3 margin.

That would be the end of it, except the vote was very close to exactly 2/3. For several days it looked as though the measure would fail because it reached a few votes short of exactly 66.66% but when the last ballot was counted the result was 66.78% in favor. So in the face of a 2/3 vote by the people, a group sued to block certification pending a recount. Yes, with 2/3 of the public voting for this, a group sued to stop it!

My observation is that this demonstrates something important about the "anti-tax" forces in our state. Their intent is to hobble our democracy and thwart the will of the people. It is time for us to take back democracy and return majority vote to tax measures!

It is nearly impossible to get 2/3 for anything, ever, in an election. Clearly this 2/3 requirement is about hobbling democracy, not protecting rights. The public wanted to bring BART to San Jose. A remarkable 2/3 voted for this, yet a group sues based on the count being close to exactly 2/3. And in our state legislature the budget process has completely broken down as a 1/3 minority blocks every budget, every compromise and every last attempt to pass sensible measures to run our state! We are now in a "Fiscal Emergency," cutting back our schools and laying people off during a recession. This is exactly the opposite of what we should be doing and of what the public wants, but there is no choice because we are hobbled by rules that anti-government extremists managed to sneak past misinformed voters decades ago.

We must get rid of the 2/3 requirement. It is time. Democracy and good government are back in fashion so let's get on with it!

(By the way, California's Secretary of State ruled that the law says automatic recounts occur when the vote count is very close to 50/50. Since the vote count was 2/3 the law does not apply even though the election was close. A judge ruled Tuesday that the attempt to block Measure B came too late.

Click through to Speak Out California

Posted by Dave Johnson at December 3, 2008 7:43 AM


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