Report #17 on the Six Californias Signature Verification Process

Two counties reported their random sampling results in Wednesday’s update: Fresno (validity rate 75.1%) and Tuolumne (73.3%). In addition, Tuolumne (which actually did a full count, not a random sample) found an additional 29 raw signatures, bringing the total raw count up slightly to 1,137,826. The overall validity rate is up slightly to 67.96% (was 67.58%, for a projected valid signature count of 768,923, a comfortable 1,688 more than needed to qualify for a full count.

Five counties still have to complete their random sampling. They are (in order of the number of raw signatures they reported) Los Angeles (311,924 raw signatures), Mariposa (945), Trinity (779), Inyo (616), and San Benito (350). Los Angeles has to check 3% of their signatures and San Benito has to check all 350; the other three have to check 500 (unless they want to check them all).

With the Fresno and Tuolumne numbers in, Los Angeles only needs to have a not unreasonable 66.6% validity rate for Six Californias to qualify for a full count without reports from the other four counties. On the other hand, if Los Angeles has less than a 65.7% validity rate, then Six Californias will not qualify for a full count no matter what the other four counties report. This substantially narrows the range where the reports from Mariposa, Trinity, Inyo, and San Benito would matter.

Thirty-three counties had a validity rate of 66.6% or greater, while only seventeen had a validity rate less than 65.7%. We won’t know if Six Californias will qualify for a full count until Los Angeles County reports their numbers; when they do, we’ll also know if we need to get the reports from the other four counties.

–Steve Chessin

President, Californians for Electoral Reform (CfER)

The opinions expressed here are my own and not necessarily those of CfER.

18 thoughts on “Report #17 on the Six Californias Signature Verification Process”

  1. It’s true, Steve Chessin, I like you. For one reason, you have spent many hours creating this informative blog about the process of verifying signatures for the Six Californias Initiative. You have done an excellent job; everyday, I read this blog.

    Better than that is that I’m unsure if you’re pro or con on Six. Your writing and reporting is properly neutral, the sign of a good journalist. (We should get you a job at the San Francisco Chronicle, my hometown newspaper; they could use some ethical journalists.)

    For my part, I favor the Six Californias Initiative. Here is something I wrote a while back:

    The Six Californias Initiative will partition California into six new, sovereign states. In each, people of common culture and values will choose and decide, as they deem right and proper, how to best seek their own happiness and prosperity, for themselves and for their posterity.

    Today, California is ruled by detached and insulated politicians in Sacramento, one-hundred-twenty-one politicians-forty members of the State Senate, eighty members of the State Assembly, and Gov. Jerry Brown. Among this Oligarchy of 121 there is not a single statesman or woman, neither Republican nor Democrat. Instead, we have career politicians who seek little else but power and control, adulation and status, and the prerogatives of the ruling elite to buy votes with taxpayers’ money.

    That Oligarchy has failed to perform adequately the three basic functions of state government: To ensure the safety and security of all Californians (fire and police ), to provide safe and sufficient infrastructure (roads, bridges, and clean water to drink), and to ensure our children’s good education (K-12 and universities). With their poor stewardship and greedy governance these politicians take from the citizenry our natural right to govern ourselves. We the people, we Californians, we can do better.

    With six new state governments we will re-invent the wheel; actually, we will re-invent six new wheels, each a government that is forced closer to the voters, thereby more responsive to their needs, more responsible to the citizenry, much more accountable. Each new state will have the ability to elect good women and men they might run into at Walmart, Whole Foods, or Nordstrom’s. Elected representatives will be forced to spend time with their constituents because they will live among them, and listen to them instead of lobbyists and sycophants seeking political favors. With Fate’s smile, we might even elect a few statesmen and women.

    The Six Californias Initiative is a big change, no doubt about that. Will Six make for a perfect California? No, of course not, but we don’t have a perfect state now. Regardless, we can try to better provide for people’s safety, prosperity, and happiness.

    Steve, I would like to discuss Six with you. Why? Because at our cores, I’m believe we are two like-thinking men.

    We can do it offline, or even as a give and take discussion here on CiFR.  Usually in such discussions my intent is NOT to persuade someone; rather it is to be persuaded to another point of view. That said, I’m pretty sure Six is a good thing for California and for the nation.

    Thanks and kind regards,

    Bud D.

  2. Until Tuolomne, the only counties that reported a full count of their signatures were those mandated to do so (because they collected less than 500 signatures), or Colusa, whose total signature count was so close to the mandated minimum that they probably figured there was no reason to separate it out into a sample and a full count.

    I wonder if Tuolomne (whose duplicate rate was astoundingly high, about 10%) was motivated by seeing a lot of duplicates in the sample? If you wanted the measure to pass, and your county’s validity rate was reduced significantly by duplicates, would you choose to do a full count in the hopes that it would raise your count of total valid votes? Or vice versa, if you saw a low duplicate rate and wanted to raise it? It seems like a legal way that a county’s preferences could be used to influence the process.  

  3. The hospitals petition that Arno (barely) qualified had a full check validity rate of 63.3% in Los Angeles. A lot of these signatures for Six Californias were gathered in conjunction with the low validity hospitals petition, and many others were collected with a misleading bait and switch plebiscite that Arno printed and distributed himself. This bait and switch tactic leads to both duplicate and fraudulent signatures. While it’s possible that he cleaned up all 311,924 signatures he turned in from LA, it’s very feasible that he didn’t clean it up enough because he was roughly 200,000 signatures short on delivery of what he promised Draper (remember, Draper said they had 1.3 million). The question is, are the 200,000 sigs missing because Arno cleaned up the LA mess in hopes that he could pass a random, or did Arno desperately throw every bad signature in in an attempt to meet his contractual obligations? If the first, then validity will be better than the 63.3 percent that LA found for the hospital petition on 8-1-14. If the second option, then they will have to hope for a very lucky random just to make it to a full count. Here is a link to the last full check Arno went through, just a bit over a month ago:

    P.S. I have a question. Since many of the fraud complaints about misleading signature gathering tactics originate in Los Angeles county, is the Registrar county counting those signatures as good, even though the complaint and request for withdrawal of the signature has already been filed with the Secretary of State?

  4. Not putting the shady spin on it, Bud. The tone just comes from an intimate knowledge of how these contracts work. In fact, I’m slightly pissed because we should be in no way sitting here sweating whether this thing will even make it to a full count. After the amount of money that was spent on this petition, it should be comfortable, even if hitting a full check.

    We all know that a competent contractor will pull as many duplicates as they can before a turn in because the duplicate multiplier formula can be particularly punitive —  so much so that even a petition that has sufficient signatures can fail to qualify for a full count if they wind up with the bad luck of a bad random. That’s why the smart course of action is to turn in way, way, way over what is needed.

    Arno had a road map to what his validity would be with the hospital petition, and if you look at the comparison, the only differences between hospital petition validity and this petition are in areas where other, more competent contractors were running their own local initiatives simultaneously. For instance, Ventura was high because a very good coordinator was running a recall initiative there at the time and the signatures collected were qualified by competent circulators and very competent management. Riverside’s signatures were being collected side by side with a local land use petition being run by one of Arno’s competitors, Lee Albright. Good validity was the result.

    That’s why the validity in these counties spiked over what was turned in on the hospital petition. On the other hand, Sacramento, which was running no simultaneous petitions from other coordinators was managed by none other than Pete Arno, Mike’s not-so-talented brother who’s last failed business was a dojo. This, plus the Discovery Petition Management crew (look up the Momentum scandal with the arena petition in Sacramento a few months ago) explains the utterly dismal validity rate in the county. You see, it all depends on who’s managing the circulators in that particular area more than anything else.

    Before you knock me as a member of the industry pushing the agenda of other contractors, I’m not. In fact, I am an interested third party fly on the wall who has been burned during a petition movement by not just one, but two of California’s big three. I have now learned my lesson and do research on these small but very important details before calling on any professional gathering outlet for help because this is what makes the difference between success and failure. It has gotten so bad that I have advised some political allies to run petitions themselves rather than hire contractors under certain circumstances, because slim odds are better than wasting millions on empty promises.

    The big question here is: was there a petition being run in Los Angeles by a competent contractor in conjunction with Six States? If so, then they have a chance. If not, or if it was being run by a motivated opponent who didn’t mind piling on the duplicates, then it looks bad for Draper.

    I admit, I am getting a bit of a laugh at how much of a mess Arno made of this effort, but the laughter is completely muted by the fact that it comes at the cost of such a worthy petition by the people. This is the EXACT problem that has been plaguing California’s best political causes for the past decade or more. It’s very sad.

  5. A lot of these signatures for Six Californias were gathered in conjunction with the low validity hospitals petition, and many others were collected with a misleading bait and switch plebiscite that Arno printed and distributed himself. This bait and switch tactic leads to both duplicate and fraudulent signatures.

    Restaurant Games

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