Lawsuit Filed to Stop Implementation of Prop 14

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SAN FRANCISCO — A lawsuit was filed today seeking an injunction to stop the state of California from implementing Senate Bill 6 (SB 6), the law that carries out Proposition 14 (Top-Two Open Primary Act).

The court documents are available for download at

The complaint, filed in San Francisco Superior Court, argues SB 6 is unconstitutional because the law:

1. Disenfranchises voters since any vote cast for a write-in candidate will not be counted in the general election.

2. Unfairly censors and discriminates against candidates from political organizations that do not qualify as a “state-recognized” party. SB 6 allows only the state-recognized parties to appear on the ballot. Candidates who choose to not identify with a state-recognized party are only allowed to state that they have “No Party Preference” on the ballot.

“The voters of California are victims of a legislative bait-and-switch. The law that is going into effect – SB 6 – reneges on key promises made by Prop 14,” said Gautam Dutta, attorney representing the plaintiffs. “This complaint challenges the constitutional defects of SB 6, the law that implements Prop 14.”

The complaint is filed on behalf of six plaintiffs: Mona Field, a registered voter in Los Angeles County; Richard Winger, a registered voter in San Francisco County; Stephen A. Chessin, a registered voter in Santa Clara County; Jennifer Wozniak, a registered voter in Orange County; Jeff Mackler, a registered voter in Alameda County and a candidate affiliated with Socialist Action, a “non-qualified” political organization; and Rodney Martin, a registered voter in Tulare County and candidate affiliated with the Reform Party, a “non-qualified” political organization.

Statements from the Plaintiffs:

“SB 6 is a hastily and poorly written law that was the result of a political backroom deal to secure the tie-breaking vote to pass the 2009 state budget,” said Steve Chessin, a registered Santa Clara County voter who is also the president of Californians for Electoral Reform. “The disconnect between SB 6 and Prop 14 demonstrate either sloppy work by the Legislature or an intentional campaign to deceive voters into approving Prop 14.”

“SB 6 misleads voters. By not counting write-in votes after allowing voters to cast them, SB 6 will trick people into throwing away their votes,” said Jennifer Wozniak, a registered voter in Orange County.

“SB 6 marginalizes candidates from smaller political organizations,” said Rodney Martin, who is a member of the Reform Party of California. “When I run for office and if this suit is not successful, I won’t be allowed to identify myself as a member of the Reform Party on the ballot, because it is not a state-recognized political party. The ballot will only show “No Party Preference” next to my name.”

“The law gives candidates from established political parties an unfair advantage,” said Mona Field, a political science professor and an expert on California government.

Ballot Access News:

On July 28, two congressional candidates (in the 2012 election) and four voters filed a lawsuit in Superior Court in San Francisco, arguing that two aspects of the California top-two system are unconstitutional, as applied to them. The case is Field v Bowen, cgc10-502018. Here is the complaint. Here is the brief.

The California Constitution was amended in 2002 to provide that all valid votes must be counted. Nevertheless, the implementing language for California’s Proposition 14 says that write-in votes in November, for Congress and state office, may never be counted. Proposition 14 and its implementing law, SB 6, did not repeal the law that says write-in space must be printed on the ballot in November for those offices. Nor did Prop. 14 and SB 6 repeal the law that provides that write-in candidates in November may file a declaration of write-in candidacy.

The voter plaintiffs say it is very likely, given the limited number of candidates on the ballot in future general elections in California (only two candidates per office), that they will want to cast a write-in vote in November, and they want their write-ins counted.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court said in Burdick v Takushi in 1992 that states may abolish write-in space on ballots, it has also ruled that the U.S. Constitution protects the right of voters to have their votes counted.

The two candidate-plaintiffs are Rodney Martin, who is a registered member of the Reform Party, and Jeff Mackler, who is a registered member of Socialist Action Party. They wish to run for Congress in 2012, and they want their party to be printed on the primary ballot next to their names. But Prop. 14 and SB 6 provide that only candidates who are registered members of qualified parties may have their party “preference” on the ballot. Martin and Mackler have no choice but to have “no party preference” printed on the ballot next to their names. Disclosure: one of the voter plaintiffs is Richard Winger.

3 thoughts on “Lawsuit Filed to Stop Implementation of Prop 14

  1. Good luck ----- and the Judes Turn Around Artist award goes to .......... Lake

    Questtion for one time foe and then repentant ally Rodney [once Arid Zona, now California] Martin.

    Why did you, and Richard Winger, a guy that I literally adore, not profile this issue early on? Why the last minute running around screaming ‘the sky is falling’?

    All kinds of talk, by BAN and others, of how terrible the current situation is, especially for non Democans and non Republicrats, but no juice on the issue of Top Two.

    [a] Apparently Christine Tobin ‘does not play well with others’

    [b] Apparently many, approaching on MOST California voters, cast ballots by mail. I dropped off half a dozen from my little local cartel at the county office on the first day, WEEKS before walk in election day.

    I was the first voter in the entire state for Der Arnold’s Day Jerk victory in 2003. I have been warning Winger of the almost 50% early vote / wasted propanda paradyme for months before June 2010.

    [c] The main thrust of Tobin’s ‘getting the word out’ seemed to be letters to the editor per the ‘beloved’ main stream media * sarcasm * ——- an impoverished group largely dependent on establishment advertising revenue.

    I, along with many non Wall Street GOP types, have never had a letter printed in the insulated ‘no news source’ of the San Diego Union Tribune in decades.

    While dozens of letters and even opinion pieces of mine have made to the pages of the North County [Daily] Times. Little or nothing was seen on anti Proposition 14.

    [d] Queen Bee adminstration of No On 14, last minute [literally] profiling of the negative talking points, little or no propaganda, failure to frame the issue.

    The question is not why did Top Two win in June 2010, but why did they not do better than they did!

  2. paulie Post author

    Press release on this, might be a post later


    Date: July 30, 2010
    Media Contact: Jenny Jiang (323) 761-9580,

    Statement by Attorney Gautam Dutta in response to Governor Schwarzenegger and Lieutenant Governor Maldonado’s attacks on the SB 6 / Prop 14 lawsuit.

    “Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado’s joint attacks on the SB 6 lawsuit are baseless attempts to deviate attention from the real issues at hand. It is telling that both the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor, who is the author of SB 6, have not challenged the legal merits of our lawsuit or denied the allegations that SB 6 will disenfranchise voters and censor candidates from smaller political parties. They are attempting to diminish the illegality of SB 6 by throwing around phrases like “special interests” and “party bosses.” The fact is this lawsuit was brought by six individuals (four voters and two candidates) who are concerned about the serious implications of SB 6. This lawsuit is not funded by any political party, organizations or so-called “special interests.”

    Governor Schwarzenegger’s statement:

    Visit for more information.


  3. paulie Post author

    And one more:

    407 S. Dearborn Street ? Suite 1170 ? Chicago, IL ? 60605
    (312) 320-4101 ? FAX (866) 309-7803

    Christina Tobin, Founder & President
    Phone: 312-320-4101
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE’s Christina Tobin Tells Governor Schwarzenegger to Calm Down.

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. – As reported in the San Jose Mercury News yesterday, Thursday, July 29, a lawsuit was filed charging that state Senate Bill 6 is unconstitutional. SB 6 is the legislation that put Proposition 14, the Top Two election system, on the June 8 California ballot.

    Specifically, the lawsuit claims that SB 6 bans the counting of write-in votes for the general election which denies voters the right to have their vote counted. The lawsuit also states that SB 6 bans candidates from stating their party preference if their preference of party is non-qualified. Several areas of the California Constitution and the U.S. Constitution are cited as being violated by SB 6.

    The relief being sought from the lawsuit asks the court the institute an injunction against the implementation of SB 6. It asks the court to declare that SB 6 is unenforceable and to declare that Proposition 14 is inoperative. The lawsuit also asks the court to “declare that Proposition 14 shall not become operative unless and until lawful implementing legislation has been enacted and has become operative.”

    Information included in the lawsuit stated that SB 6 was originally drafted as a bill dealing with hazardous waste, was amended and passed by the Legislature between 3:40 a.m. and 6:55 a.m., February 19, 2009 without public notice, and that the governor signed it the next day.

    Today, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a statement in response to learning of the lawsuit against SB 6 where he is quoted as saying, “It comes as no surprise that Sacramento special interests are trying to overturn the government reforms Californians overwhelmingly support. I will fight these special interests at every turn to protect these reforms that will break through Sacramento’s dysfunction.”

    Lt. Governor Abel Maldonado, who sold his yes vote on a budget in exchange for passage of SB 6, is quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle saying, “This lawsuit is yet another attempted power grab by party bosses trying to continue the manipulation of legislators and deny the people of California their choice to vote for whomever they want.”

    “Maldonado and Schwarzenegger are flat out wrong that this lawsuit is an attempted power grab by party bosses and special interests,” said Christina Tobin, Chair of, an organization opposed to the passage of Proposition 14. “They need to calm down with the extremist statements. Those two quotes illustrate precisely what is wrong with Sacramento politics and it has nothing to do with the lack of a Top Two system. Politicians giving sound bites without a shred of substance hasn’t fixed anything in California yet.”

    “Schwarzenegger is claiming that people who want their vote counted are special interests because they want to cast a write-in vote,” Tobin said. “Somebody needs to teach the governor what real special interests are and that he and his big money backers fit that description to a tee.”

    “For Maldonado to pull out the party boss card in response to this lawsuit shows a real detachment from reality,” Tobin said. “The reality is that SB 6 was a sloppy and incomplete mess of legislation rushed through the Legislature in the wee hours of the morning without public input, let alone expert opinion, and it was signed the next day by Schwarzenegger. The reality of this lawsuit is that it asks Maldonado and his friends to fix the incompetent legislation they passed. It doesn’t give anything to any party bosses, contrary to Maldonado’s false claim.”

    “Passing legislation in the manner they did with SB 6 is dysfunctional and part of this states’ problem,” Tobin said. “Now these two are acting exactly like the extremists they claim Proposition 14 will get rid of. Instead of addressing the issues raised in the lawsuit and finding solutions for the people of California these two are running to the media with sound bites and attacking their opponents. Are Maldonado and Schwarzenegger really the type of politicians California needs more of to fix things? I think not.”

    A Free and Equal press conference will take place next week in Sacramento, Calif.


    Free and Equal
    Christina Tobin, CEO


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