Comes Now the Scarlet PSG

Paid collectors of signatures to place measures on the California ballot would be required to wear badges (Queue Treasure of the Sierra Madre) under  a bill sent by the Legislature to Gov. Jerry Brown on August 18.

The measure — SB 448 by Sen. Mark DeSaulnier — is aimed at helping “address serious abuses of the initiative process by giving the public critical information they need when signing a petition,” according to the Concord Democrat.

“California’s initiative process is broken,” said DeSaulnier in a statement.  “Gov. Hiram Johnson never envisioned in 1911 that his initiative process would one day be dominated by moneyed special interests that often mislead voters.  Petition circulators need to disclose when they are being paid to gather signatures.”

(Editor’s Note: Johnson was a Teddy Roosevelt-like progressive as governor. He was Roosevelt’s vice-president on the 1912 Bull Moose ticket. However, as governor and then as US Senator from 1917 to 1945 Johnson was also a leader in the anti-Japanese movement signing a bill in 1913 to restrict their ability to own land in California and working to prohibit their right to imigrate to the United States in 1924.)

DeSaulnier’s bill requires persons paid to circulate an initiative, referendum, or recall petition to wear a badge identifying them as a “paid signature gatherer.”  The badge must be worn on the signature gatherer’s chest “in clear view of all individuals signing or asked to sign the petition.”

PAID SIGNATURE GATHERER must be in at least 30 point type. (That’s 36 point at left.)

Initially, the bill would have required volunteer signature gathers to wear badges indentifying them as such but that requirement was deleted.  

Campaign workers who are paid to circulate petitions are usually compensated based on the number of signatures they gather, receiving a certain bounty — often in the $1.50 range — per signature.

The badge bill  is supported by Secretary of State Debra Bowen. Gov. Brown has 12 days to act on it.

DeSaulnier has two other measures relating to inatitives that are still pending in the Legislature.


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