Convention Center Ballot Language Violates California Election Laws

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For a quotes see below

SAN DIEGO, CA — The ballot question adopted by the San Diego City Council for a measure set to go before voters in March that imposes a new tax to expand the convention center runs afoul of California election laws that require the summary to be a true, impartial and transparent synopsis of the measure, according to a lawsuit filed by voters.

As written, the ballot question to raise the transient occupancy tax (TOT) to expand the convention center and fund homeless programs and street repairs is not in compliance with California Election Code 13119, enacted into state law to ensure that voters have the information they need to make good decisions. State law requires that the ballot summary be neither argumentative nor prejudicial. For measures that impose a tax, it also requires that the ballot summary include the amount of money to be raised annually and the duration of the tax. Voters in the lawsuit assert that the City Council failed to comply with these requirements thereby undermining the voters’ right to true, impartial, and transparent information.  

Andrea Guerrero, executive director of Alliance San Diego, said the following:

“Voters make good decisions when they have the right information, which is why California has election laws in place that require ballot questions and summaries to be true, impartial and transparent. Unfortunately, the San Diego City Council voted to put a measure that imposes a new tax to expand the convention center despite the fact that the ballot question is anything but true, impartial and transparent. This is not only against the law, it undermines our democracy and the goodwill of voters.”

Margaret Prinzing of Remcho, Johansen & Purcell, and counsel for petitioners, said the following:

“The San Diego City Council has failed to provide accurate and unbiased information on the ballot question, which is a basic and critical function of the California election process. We have filed this lawsuit to ensure that city officials follow the law and abstain from infusing misleading and illegally biased statements.”

Michael McConnell, voter and petitioner, said the following:

 “Having misleading and false information on the ballot question goes against every basic notion of good governance. We are holding our elected officials accountable to the law and to the voters who deserve to know exactly what it is they’re voting for, so they can make up their minds without the biased interference of their government. We owe it to the voters, we owe it to ourselves, we owe it our democracy.”

Isidro Ortiz, voter and petitioner, said the following:

“The right to vote and choose candidates and express preferences on issues are fundamental tenets of our democracy. This right is honored and maximized when voters are provided critical full, impartial and correct information by those in whom they have placed trust and entrusted responsibility. Regrettably, this is not the case on this ballot question. San Diego voters and taxpayers such as myself deserve better from their elected representatives and appointed officials. These authorities must rise to the occasion and enable voters to cast fully informed votes.”

About Alliance San Diego

Alliance San Diego is a non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)(3) community empowerment organization working to ensure that all people can achieve their full potential in an environment of harmony, safety, equality, and justice. Our mission is to provide a means for diverse individuals and organizations to share information, collaborate on issues and mobilize for change in the pursuit of social justice, especially in low-income communities and communities of color. We pursue this mission through targeted civic engagement programs and strategic coalitions that focus on specific issues and policy reforms.