[Posted by Dafydd ab Hugh]
UPDATED; see bottom.
Okay, I know I’m not a lawyer. And I hate having to play one… but the courts seem determined to force me to do so.
The appellate court just bounced Proposition 77, redistricting reform, agreeing with California AG Bill Lockyer that there was substantial difference between the version of the proposition submitted for inclusion on the ballot, and the version on the petition circulated to voters… which nearly a million California voters signed.
I don’t understand this at all. Let’s suppose that Ted Costa and his group, Fair Districts Now, were negligent in submitting an altered version of the proposition for review. Let’s even agree they should be punished. But throwing the proposition off the ballot is not just punishing FDN… it’s also punishing over 900,000 California voters who did nothing wrong — including me.
Don’t the voters have rights? Don’t we have the God damned right to vote on ballot propositions that we properly approved for the God damned ballot? How do the subsequent actions of Ted Costa retroactively delegitimize the signatures of 900,000 voters? Where the hell do these black-robed jagoffs get the right to spit in our faces and grab for a technicality to throw our amendment off the ballot? It doesn’t belong to Ted Costa… it belongs to us!
These black-robed legal priests of the High Church of Fundamentalist Krytocracy would presumably argue that it wasn’t a “technicality,” that there was “substantial non-compliance.” But I’ll tell you why it’s a technicality — speaking as a regular person, not some abnormal alien geek of a lawyer (no offense meant to AAGLs who are also regular people in real life, like our kindly host here… but plenty of offense offered to AAGLs who are that way on and off the court, and I’ve met plenty): it’s a technicality because it would be as freaking easy as pie to fix this problem by just putting the exact version we signed onto the damned ballot, that’s why!
How hard could that be? For God’s sake, it would take about ten minutes to change the bad version into the good version. As I noted, they don’t even have to read through and identify the changes, because the Secretary of State already did that (or else someone else did and gave it to him).
What the hell is going on? Am I simply too stupid to understand why it’s somehow impossible to just put the right version, the signature-gathering version, on the ballot instead of the slightly rewritten version? Is this some lawyer thing that I would understand if I were so brilliant that I had gone to law school for three years, instead of being a feeble-minded mathematician who could only manage to attend some dinky mathematics graduate school at UC for three years?
Can some lawyer explain to me in simple terms, in words that even a bonehead mathematician with a scant eighteen published novels can comprehend, why it’s a better solution for two out of three judges to unzip and relieve themselves on the voters, yanking the entire proposition off the ballot, instead of just ordering Bruce McPherson to make the changes on the document he already has to turn it into the one that was circulated — and ordering Fair Districts Now to pay for the costs of doing so?
Am I just an idiot? Enquiring minds want to know — even if they’re not up to the level of intellectual rationalization of some godlike judge.
UPDATE AND BUMP: One indication of how differences between the two versions might have affected signers is to look at the two different ballot titles and summaries prepared by Attorney General Bill Lockyer. An alert commenter, Nels Nelson, found links to both: the summary of the version originally submitted to Lockyer is here, while the summary Lockyer has just written for the version actually circulated for signatures is here.
As Nelson noted, the only difference is that in the new version, Lockyer changed a single word in the title from “reapportionment” to “redistricting.” And this change, by the way, does not come from any differences between the two versions. Both versions use the term “redistricting;” neither says “reapportionment.” That term came from Bill Lockyer’s own head — not from anything in either version of the initiative.
In other words, neglecting the purely stylistic and cosmetic change in the title that Lockyer took the opportunity to make, the two summaries are word-for-word identical, despite the supposed “numerous substantive differences” to which Lockyer makes reference in his press release about the case he filed to remove the measure from the ballot (in which Lockyer won the first two rounds; everyone now awaits action by the state Supreme Court).
Well, I can certainly see how that must have affected signatures.