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California budget: Early June ballot could pose ‘great risk’ of disenfranchising voters, elections official warns

March 21, 2011 | 12:04 pm

The window for Gov. Jerry Brown to hold a special election on tax extensions on June 7 is fast closing –- and may already have passed.

Already, Brown and state legislators would have to rewrite California's election laws if they are to hold any kind of election in June, as they have passed the legal deadline for such balloting.

A spokeswoman for the state's chief elections officer said Monday that holding an election on June 7, as the governor has proposed, would now come at a "great risk to disenfranchising voters."

"I can tell you the longer lawmakers wait, the greater the risk will be to voter turnout and voter disenfranchisement,” said Shannan Velayas, a spokeswoman for California Secretary of State Debra Bowen.

No statewide election has even been called with less than 88 days until voters went to the polls, she said. March 11 marked 88 full days before June 7.

Brown wants to hold a special election in June asking voters to extend temporary sales and vehicle taxes before they expire in July. He also wants voters to renew a third temporary levy, on income, that expired on Jan. 1. Counting back on the calendar 88 days, Brown and the Legislature could call a June 21 election by Friday, March 25, or an election on June 28 by the following Friday, April 1.

Numerous tasks must be performed before votes can be cast. Those include writing a title and summary of the measure, translating it into six languages, preparing a fiscal analysis, allowing a public viewing and printing ballots. Lawmakers can truncate the time allotted for such tasks by rewriting election statutes.

But Velayas noted that "anytime you're under that 88-day period, there's a great risk."

-- Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento