This loophole was recently employed by proponents of the Waterfront Height Limit Initiative to steal the opposition's official position in the voter pamphlet, robbing the voters of a legitimate opposition argument in the ballot
San Francisco, CA - Today at the Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Scott Wiener will ask the City Attorney to draft legislation to close a loophole in the ballot argument lottery conducted by the Board of Elections. This undemocratic loophole allows any individual to submit dozens of ballot arguments, unfairly weighting the lottery so that their argument will be selected over individuals who only submit a single ballot argument. In the recent selection process for the June ballot pamphlet, the proponents of the Waterfront Height Limit Initiative used this tactic to flood the oppositional argument lottery - and won the right to be the official opponent of the ballot measure they support. This robbed the legitimate opposition of the opportunity to present an argument in the ballot, and will leave voters with a misleading ballot pamphlet.
Supervisor Wiener will request legislation to establish that every registered voter can submit a single ballot argument per measure for selection in the lottery.
"Ensuring the integrity of our ballot is an important good government measure," said Supervisor Wiener. "What happened with this June's election voter pamphlet denied San Francisco voters a balanced presentation of the arguments and made a mockery of our ballot process. The current ambiguity in the Elections code allows some to game a forum where open dialogue is an essential cornerstone. I'm asking the City Attorney to help me draft legislation that will clarify the rules so that we have a more equitable and ethical ballot argument process."
Currently, Section 530 of the San Francisco Municipal Elections code states that any individual may submit a written argument for or against any measure. For years individuals have taken advantage of the lack of clarity in this language to submit multiple arguments for a single measure, thereby forcing those who submit a single argument to either accept reduced odds of winning the lottery or to also submit multiple arguments in order to keep pace. In the past, this tactic was always used by actual supporters or opponents of ballot arguments. This June's ballot was the first time that a proponent used the opportunity to flood their opponent's lottery and steal the opportunity to put a legitimate argument before the voters.