Proposition G - Election AssistanceNovember 1, 2002
What it does
Proposition G would amend the Charter to correct a number of problems with the November 2001 Proposition E (Ethics, Elections and Outside Counsel). Specifically, the major changes of Prop G are to make it easier to use City employees to assist the Elections Department, spell out restrictions on certain activities by Elections Commissioners, and to add guidelines and restrictions on transporting of ballots.
Why it is on the ballot
Last November, voters passed Proposition E, a Supervisor-sponsored Charter Amendment which was a hodge-podge of restrictive measures evolving out a distrust of existing City officers and employees by some members of the Board of Supervisors.
Regarding the conduct of elections, Proposition E created a new seven-member Elections Commission appointed by seven authorities to oversee the Department of Elections. It also replaced the five-member Ethics Commission with appointments from five different authorities.
Proposition E restricted commissioners from holding office; working or volunteering with government, political parties, lobbyists or consultants; and most political activity such as contributing or soliciting money, endorsing candidates or issues, and policymaking. This applied to working or volunteering as individuals or on behalf of organizations at the municipal, regional, state, and federal levels. The proposition eliminated the longstanding practice of using City employees to fill 3,000 poll workers and related positions on election day.
This summer, the Elections Department sought supplemental funding to pay for temporary workers and Sheriff deputy overtime used on the March 2002 election day and to comply with other Proposition E provisions. The Controller, in his analysis of Proposition G, estimates that the City could save $150,000 in a fiscal year with two elections.
Under Proposition G, only the Sheriff's Department would move voted ballots from the polls to the Elections Department on Election Day. The Sheriff's Department would be required to approve all other security plans. The Elections Department would be charged with developing security plans when the Sheriff is running for re-election or if the ballot financially affects the Sheriff's Department.
Those who support Proposition G state:
- Proposition G will fix some of the worst excesses mandated in last November's Proposition E.
- The prohibition on use of City employees generated an enormous dollar cost which Prop G addresses by loosening that prohibition.
Those who oppose Proposition G state:
- The Elections Department still should not use City employees as poll workers or Field Election Deputies. City workers, for example, are connected with employee associations or unions which may indirectly be affected by ballot measures or candidates. The Elections Department should retrain poll workers as Field Election Deputies.
Prop E was a classic case of narrow political agendas, rushed development of ballot measures, and the general amateur sausage making of local legislative writing, particularly ballot propositions. Prop G attempts to address problems with the Commission itself and adds more rules on the transportation of ballots, another area where the City appeared to fall down in the last election.
There was also concern that restricting commissioners' political activity may be unconstitutional, given its impact on free speech and the state/federal law preemption of local law. Proposition G clarifies and makes more specific restrictions on Elections and Ethics Commissioners working or volunteering on the local level as a civil servant, political party officer, registered campaign consultant or lobbyist, or political activity. No restriction is made for political activity on the regional, state or federal level.
SPUR recommends support for Proposition G. Prop G, like Prop E, adds excruciating detail which does not belong in the Charter, but is necessary to change ill-advised Charter provisions placed in the Charter last year.
SPUR recommends a "Yes" vote on Proposition G.