In a strongly worded tentative ruling, a Sacramento Superior Court judge directed the California Secretary of State to count petitions submitted in two northern California counties for a referendum effort to overturn AB 1266, California’s co-ed bathroom law. The Secretary of State had refused to count signatures timely submitted in Tulare and Mono counties. In Tulare County, mail room personnel initially refused to accept the petitions from a courier. In Mono County the package was delivered but not opened for a number of days. The problems in both Counties resulted from the statutory filing deadline falling on a Sunday in the middle of a three day weekend. Privacy For All Students, the organization that promoted the referendum, arranged for courier delivery before the Sunday deadline in both counties. While each of the counties reported the signatures to State elections officials, the Secretary of State refused to count any of the signatures submitted in these counties.
“It is a shame that we had to go to court to assure that the citizens of Tulare and Mono would not be disenfranchised by the arbitrary actions of the Secretary of State,” said Gina Gleason, proponent of the referendum.
The opinion, delivered by Judge Allen Sumner concluded that PFAS actually had until Tuesday, November 12 to file the petitions, due to the weekend and the Monday holiday. The Secretary of State initially told PFAS that signatures needed to be delivered to each of the 58 counties by close of business the previous Friday, or earlier if the registrar of voters in a county was closed on Friday.
PFAS made arrangements with some counties to accept signatures on Sunday, November 10. The Secretary of State conceded that petitions delivered on Sunday would be accepted, but signatures would not be counted after that. Based on this, PFAS did not attempt to deliver petitions as late as November 12. Petitions were delivered to the two counties in dispute on Friday November 8 and Saturday November 9.
“The process of collecting 504,760 valid signatures in 90 days is tough enough. But the Secretary of State seemed determined to shorten the time we were given wherever possible,” said Karen England, a spokesperson for PFAS. “We have slowly realized that the Secretary of State is not an unbiased referee in this process but an advocate for the co-ed bathroom law.”
Nearly 620,000 signatures presented in support of the referendum are being validated in a joint process by the counties and the State. Presentation of those signatures in November suspended the implementation of the law. However, officials at the office of the Secretary of State are erroneously advising that the law became effective on January 1. PFAS is advising school personnel that the law was suspended based on the presentation of the signatures and that the law will only go into effect if the signatures are determined to be inadequate or the voters approve the law on the November ballot.
For more information about the referendum to overturn California’s co-ed bathroom law, visit the PFAS web page at www.privacyforallstudents.com
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