Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Prop.77 Fails the test: Again

Appeals Court Upholds Move to Strike Redistricting Proposal
By Nancy Vogel and Alicia Wittmeyer
Times Staff Writers

4:00 PM PDT, August 9, 2005

The state appeals court ruled today to keep Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's redistricting proposal off the Nov. 8 special election ballot, siding with the state attorney general and setting the stage for a quick appeal to the state Supreme Court.

In its 2-1 ruling, the three-judge panel backed Atty. Gen . Bill Lockyer, who had argued that the version of the proposition that was circulated among voters to collect signatures to place it on the ballot was different than the initiative that was given to his office, which is illegal.

Proposition 77, a keystone of the governor's agenda, would attempt to strip lawmakers of the power to redraw legislative and congressional districts, giving the task instead to a panel of retired judges in order to make the process less political.

"The petitioners could easily have avoided or discovered and corrected the problem of different versions before the circulation of the petitions," the ruling said.

Presiding Justice Arthur Scotland issued the dissenting opinion, saying that any challenges to the validity of the proposition should wait until after the election is held.

Supporters of the proposition had said the wording differences were minor technicalities that would not have mattered to voters, and that in substance, they had obeyed the law.

"The court today ignored the will of nearly 1 million Californians who signed petitions demanding redistricting reform," Schwarzenegger in a statement after the ruling. "Those voters knew they were signing petitions in support of reform and they deserve to get it."

The versions had 17 differences, sometimes with single words replaced, other times with entire passages reworded.

Daniel Kolkey, the attorney representing the proposition's supporters, said he plans on filing a petition for an emergency review with the state Supreme Court tomorrow. The court has 60 days to process the review.

Voter guides for the special elections are scheduled to be printed on Aug. 15.
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