Last year Peace and Freedom Party proposed to members and senators of the state legislature that they introduce legislation in 2021 to provide party representation in the California State Legislature; to allow non-citizen parents and guardians the right to vote in school district elections; and to match the rental exemptions of Costa Hawkins with those of AB 1482. The California State Senate and California State Assembly have now adjourned for the year and took no action on any of our proposals which just proves our point that each party needs representation in order to get our programs introduced and debated in the legislature.

This year, we submitted proposals for legislation to be introduced in 2022: to eliminate candidate filing fees which restrict poor and other working-class candidates from running for office; to eliminate the $25 a word fees for candidate statements in the Secretary of State Voters Information Guide; to replace plurality voting as a method of choosing a replacement candidate with a ranked-choice voting system; and to allow the Lieutenant Governor to automatically become Governor if the Governor is recalled.

These proposals have been sent to each of the 40 State Senators, 80 members of the State Assembly, and the Secretary of State, Dr. Shirley Weber. It is our hope that some members and senators will introduce one or more of our proposals when they return to work in 2022. Click here to open/download a PDF copy of the cover letter sent to each of the 121 legislators, including the Secretary of State. Read on for the text of the four bill proposals.

–C.T. Weber
Legislative liaison, Peace and Freedom Party of California

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Peace and Freedom Party calls for the elimination of candidate filing fees

This proposed legislation would eliminate filing fees for candidates who to run for state and federal public offices in California.

Currently California requires a candidate to pay a filing fee to run for political office. In 1974 the United States Supreme Court ruled 9-0 in Lubin v. Panish, that California filing fees were unconstitutional because there was no reasonable alternative for poor people to get on the ballot. The reasonable alternative created was for candidates to gather a number of signatures in lieu of filing fees.

Now, however, to run for a statewide office a candidate of any party must either pay an exorbitant filing fee or collect 7,000 (an unreasonable number) valid signatures in lieu of filing fees from registered voters. Collecting 7,000 signatures in lieu is an unreasonable burden for any candidate. Paying signature gatherers to do the job is not a reasonable alternative since, at $2 to $3 per signature; the cost is four, five, or even more times higher than the filing fee. The number of signatures in lieu of filing fees is so high that only one candidate has ever qualified for a statewide office by only using signatures in lieu of filing fees. He said that he would never do that again because it cost him much more than if he had just paid the filing fees.

Peace and Freedom Party represents poor people, and these fees keep our candidates off the ballot. In fact, these fees keep poor people of any party from being able to qualify for the ballot. It is a candidate tax, not unlike the poll taxes of the last century, and it limits voters’ choices. It is our contention that filing fees are unconstitutional because there is still no reasonable alternative.

This proposed legislation would eliminate filing fees for candidates who to run for state and federal public offices in California. The only requirement would then be the filing of nomination signatures.

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Peace and Freedom Party calls for elimination of fees for candidate statements in state government publications

This proposed legislation would eliminate the cost for candidate statements and return to pre-Proposition 34 when all candidates could have free candidates’ statements in the Voters Information Guide.

Currently the Secretary of State charges $25.00 a word for ballot qualified candidates to have their candidate statements put in the Official Voters Information Guide, a hundred plus or minus page document to provide California voters with information that they can use to make intelligent decisions when they vote. But voters cannot make an informed choice if they do not receive the information needed to make their choice. Before 2002, if candidates signed voluntary spending limits agreements, candidate statements were free. However, when voters passed Proposition 34 in November of 2000 there was a poison pill that removed the free candidates’ statements and replaced it with a provision that candidates would be allowed to purchase candidate statements.

Now, if a candidate wants to have a 250-word statement at $25 a word, it costs $6,250 which is more than two times the amount of the filing fees to run for statewide office. For candidates with limited funds for their campaigns, this leads to candidate statements with fewer words. Fewer words often mislead voters into thinking these candidates do not have much to say and as such are not serious candidates. If a candidate seeks public office, giving her or his time and energy, that candidate should be allowed to present her or his qualifications for office and address the issues of the campaign, so that voters may make an intelligent choice.

It should be noted that proponents and opponents of ballot propositions do not have to pay for the information they provide to voters in the Voters Information Guide. That is the way it should be, and candidates should not have to pay either.

 

This proposed legislation would eliminate the cost for candidate statements and return to pre-Proposition 34 when not only poor candidates, but all candidates could have free candidates’ statements in the Voters Information Guide.

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Peace and Freedom Party calls for a Ranked Choice Voting Procedure for Recall Elections

This proposed legislation would replace plurality elections with Ranked Choice Voting for recall elections.

Currently, the recall procedure requires that an election to determine whether to recall an officer and, if appropriate, to elect a successor shall be called by the Governor. The officer may not be a replacement candidate. If the majority vote on the question is to recall, the officer is removed, and if there is a candidate, the candidate who receives a plurality is the successor.

Plurality elections, especially those used in a recall election are undemocratic because by definition a majority of those voting would have voted for someone other than the declared winner. In a recall election, if an officer is recalled by a close margin, let’s say 51% to 49%, and if there are several candidates to succeed the recalled officer then in a plurality election a candidate could be elected by a small percent, let’s say 20% or 30%. As a result, an officer removed from office may receive more than twice as many votes as the winning candidate.

Peace and Freedom Party calls for a change to the recall procedures by using a Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) system, aka Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), that will allow voters to rank the candidates in preferential order 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. That way the candidate who receives a majority of the final count would be declared the winner. The campaigns are more congenial, more votes go to winning candidates, and there is no need for an expensive runoff election in order to obtain a majority.

This proposed legislation would replace plurality elections with Ranked Choice Voting for recall elections.

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Peace and Freedom Party calls for change in the Gubernatorial Recall Procedure

This proposed legislation would establish that the Lieutenant Governor would fill a vacancy created by a Gubernatorial recall election.

Currently, the recall procedure requires that an election to determine whether to recall an officer and, if appropriate, elect a successor shall be called by the Governor. The officer may not be a replacement candidate. If the majority vote is to recall, the officer is removed, and if there is a candidate, the candidate who receives a plurality is the successor.

Under the California Constitution, the Lieutenant Governor serves as Acting Governor whenever the Governor is absent from the state and automatically becomes Governor if a vacancy occurs in the Office of Governor. We recommend that when the Governor is recalled and the office becomes vacant, the Lieutenant Governor automatically succeeds to the office of Governor.

To clarify, Peace and Freedom Party calls for amending the California Constitution, Article 2, Section 15, by adding a paragraph (d) to read something like, “In regard to the office of Governor, there will be no successor candidates on the ballot in a recall election. If the Governor is recalled and removed from office, the Lieutenant Governor shall become Governor.”

This proposed legislation would establish that the Lieutenant Governor would fill a vacancy created by a Gubernatorial recall election.

 


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