Bylaws Interpretation regarding County Council nomination petitions for June 2014 primary

Subject: Bylaws Interpretation regarding County Council nomination petitions for June 2014 primary

Sponsor: Coordinating Committee

Background: The Napa General Assembly directed the Coordinating Committee to provide for County Council elections to be conducted in 2014 in lieu of the change in state law so that the County Registrar's will not conducting them.  In preparing a plan, one of the main stumbling blocks has been the issue in validating nomination signature. Under current law, one can sign as many nominating petitions as one wants, but only a number of them can be valid, equal to the number of seats to be elected.  And if one signs more petitions than that, than the ones that come in chronologically count first, up to that number.  Since the Green Party will not have the staffing to provide for chronologically 'clocking in' and validating nomination signature in chronological order in dozens of counties, the party had to seek an alternative approach to this signature threshold issue.  This proposal seeks to estabish such an approach on a one-time basis for 2014.

Proposal: That the  Santa Rosa General Assembly approve the following bylaws interpretation:

Whereas SB1272, passed by the California state legislature and signed into law by Governor Brown changed state law so that county registrars only conduct County Council elections every four years - during presidential preference primary elections - rather than every two years during the primary elections, as has been the practice since the GPCA first qualified for the ballot; and

Whereas the June 2013 Napa General Assembly passed a budget for GPCA FY2013-2014 that budgeted $3,000 for the conduct of the 2014-2016 County Council elections, and empowered the Coordinating Committee to contract directly for support services; and
Whereas each candidate for County Council must receive a given number of nomination signatures from registered Greens in that County Council districts to qualify for the ballot; and
Whereas GPCA bylaws 6-2.5 state that "Each sponsor is entitled to sponsor as many candidates as there are seats in the district", meaning if a sponsor (registered Green in the district) signs more nomination petitions than there are seats, not all of the nomination signatures will be valid, but only a number equal to the number of seats; and
Whereas County Registrars validate nomination signatures chronologically, meaning if eight nomination signatures are turned in for eight candidates for seven seats, only the first seven signatures submitted would be valid; and
Whereas the GPCA is not going to have the staffing infrastructure to chronologically validate nomination signatures in 58 counties;
Therefore the GPCA must have process to address when there are more nomination signatures handed in than there are a number of seats for elections that does not depend upon chronological validation of signatures; and
Whereas allowing a registered Green in the district to sign an unlimited number of nomination petitions could create a unintended, negative consequences such as dozens and dozens of people on the ballot for the same seats, few of which would be know to Green voters, which could be confusing at a minimum; and
Whereas through dividing the vote over so many candidates, combined with an expected lower turnout compared to elections conducted by the County Registrars, could lead to unknown winners with minimal support, many key party leaders being lost in the morass of dozens of candidates and/or make the party susceptible to infiltration - or some combination of all three; and
Whereas a process with a pre-defined, total number of nomination signatures that will be accepted, regardless of when during the signature-gathering period they are gathered, would not present the validation issues off a chronologically-based system; and
Whereas the likelihood of having contested County Councils would increase if registered Greens could sign more nomination petitions than there are seats to be elected;
Therefore the GPCA finds that for the purposes of conducting the June 2014 County Council elections under the special circumstances of the GPCA running the election, GPCA bylaws 6-2.5 shall be interpreted to read as
"Each sponsor is entitled to sponsor as many as one more candidate than there are seats in the district, but for any sponsor who signs more nomination petitions than this, all of their nomination signatures shall be considered invalid."