Green Party requests on-ballot option for County Council elections in all counties

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

To: California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, California County Registrars
From: Green Party of California State Coordinating Committee
Date: December 8, 2015

Dear Secretary of State Alex Padilla and California County Registrars

We are writing to inform you that under California Elections Code § 7770, it is the intent of the Green Party of California (GPCA) to exercise the public ballot election option, conducted by the County Registrars, for the Green Party’s County Council (aka Central Committee) elections in all of California’s 58 counties in 2016.

    7770.  The state party chairperson, no later than the 135th day before the presidential primary election, shall notify the Secretary of State whether or not a county central committee election will be held. In the event that a county central committee election is not held, a county central committee will be convened pursuant to rules adopted by the party.

We are also writing to inform you that the number of seats and their specific allocations (whether at-large or by legislative district as provided by § 7911) will remain the same in every county as was the case for the 2012 County Council elections.

    7911. Members of county councils shall be elected from one or more multi-member districts. Multimember districts shall conform to the county boundaries or recognized jurisdictional boundaries of Congressional, State Assembly, State Senate, or Supervisorial districts within that county, in accordance with state Green Party bylaws and county Green Party bylaws.

We also note that in 2012 and in 2014, we have experienced County Registrars not only contacting our county parties to ask them whether they seek to retain the public ballot election option, but in some cases using language implying more of an 'opt-in' option for our party to continue to retain the public ballot election option, rather than the 'opt-out' language suggested by the former Secretary of State's office in CCROV #15161 (http://elections.cdn.sos.ca.gov/ccrov/pdf/2011/december/11138lf.pdf) .

As a party that believes in grassroots democracy as one of its Ten Key Values, the Green Party  is uncomfortable with this subtle difference in language, as it could be understood as an attempt to influence our party to abandon a practice that we've never indicated that we have any interest in changing.

Furthermore we have received communications from at least one County Registrar who was planning to seek authority from his County Supervisors to actually charge political parties for exercising the public ballot election option. Although that County Registrar eventually declined to pursue that effort (after receiving feedback from the ballot qualified parties in that county, as well as from the County Supervisors there), we also feel compelled to comment upon this trend.

The GPCA fully understands that county government is not always sufficiently funded, and that elections officials in many counties feel the resultant strain. For this reason, the Green Party has long advocated public policies to reform our tax system and build a more sustainable economy, so that all needed public services are sufficiently funded.

One place however, that we do not agree should be underfunded is our democracy.

We understand that as a result of 2010’s Proposition 14 (the Top Two Elections Law), that the economics of paying for the extra cost of printing separate ballot pamphlets in non-presidential election years (only to provide information on central committee elections) was seen as disproportionately expensive, and led to the 2012 passage of SB1272 (Kehoe), which eliminated Central Committee elections in non-presidential years, leading to de facto four-year Central Committee terms. We hope that it stops there.

The GPCA believes it is unequivocally in the public interest that the elections of the leadership of ballot qualified political parties are conducted in the transparent, regulated and accountable and professional manner that County Registrar’s offices provide. We therefore would be strongly concerned with any lobbying efforts by County Registrars individually and/or through the California State Association of Counties, to effectuate any further changes in California State Law to remove this responsibility from county government. Instead the Green Party would be happy to join any County Registrars in publicly advocating for sufficient funding for these and other county public services.

Thank you for consideration of these issues and for your ensuring that the public ballot election option for Green Party County Council elections is available in all of California’s 58 counties in 2016.

Sincerely,

Sanda Everette, Alex Shantz
Co-coordinators, Coordinating Committee
Green Party of California

CC: California State Assembly and State Senate Elections Committees     

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