Here's a bit of good news for California voters for a change: an effort to place a measure on the November 2014 ballot that would have implemented polling place Photo ID restrictions on voting in the Golden State has failed to gather enough signatures to qualify.
Similar voting restrictions enacted by Republicans around the country have recently been found to be in violation of both the U.S. Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act. See this recent federal court ruling in Wisconsin, for instance, or this state ruling in Pennsylvania.
Despite those recent blows and others to GOP efforts to implement such policies, the aborted effort in California, headed up by a shadowy organization calling itself GuardMyVote.org, would deny the right to vote to otherwise legal voters who failed to present very specific types of Photo ID at the polls, or a photocopy of same for absentee voters. The legislative language of the detailed 7-page initiative [PDF] would have required voters to present a Photo ID with an expiration date that, among other requirements, "was issued by the United States or the State of California (excluding public colleges and universities)."
Why state-issued Photo ID from public colleges and universities would not have been acceptable is not stated in the proposed measure, but similar GOP-enacted Photo ID restrictions in other states have been found by courts and academic studies alike to disproportionately discriminate against those who tend to vote Democratic, including minorities, the elderly, the poor and student voters.
Had the initiative made it onto the ballot and then been adopted by California voters, it would have taken effect on January 1, 2016, just in time for that year's Presidential election cycle. The failed effort may also prove to be a dodged bullet for Pete Peterson, the state's 2014 Republican nominee for Secretary of State who would have also been on the same ballot. Peterson managed to dodge some of The BRAD BLOG's specific questions about his position on such initiatives in "blue" California.
In a short search, the only names The BRAD BLOG has been able to find involved in the failed CA Photo ID measure appear to be two Rightwingers, though it's unlikely that either crafted the detailed legislative language of the proposal. The woman who submitted the initiative to the state identifies herself as a "conservative" talk radio host who broadcasts out of Palm Springs, even though, as the summary of the initiative [PDF] created by the state Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance found, the fiscal impact of the initiative was anything but conservative. The initiative, if adopted, would have included increased costs to state and local governments "potentially in the range of tens of millions of dollars per year" and required a potential increase in state funding of elections to the tune of "about $100 million," according to the legislative analysis.
The slick GuardMyVote.org webpage describes the group as a "pending" non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)4 social welfare organization. According to the site's "About Us" page: "Guard My Vote is a non-profit volunteer organization dedicated to protecting the integrity of the vote and the voter rights of all eligible California citizens, native born or naturalized."
The site accepts contributions but offers no information on exactly who they are, or who has funded either the initiative or the website. For all of their claims about "integrity," the site fails to list a single name or organization backing the initiative, so we had to do a bit of digging...
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