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In Brown setback, judge orders delay in numbering fall ballot items

June 29, 2012 |  5:15 pm

A Sacramento judge on Friday ordered Secretary of State Debra Bowen not to number the measures for the November ballot Monday, as she had planned, until he can hear a complaint brought by initiative proponent Molly Munger.

Judge Timothy M. Frawley issued a temporary restraining order against Bowen and agreed to hear Munger’s complaint on July 9.

Munger, who is backing a tax measure for the November ballot that rivals one pushed by Gov. Jerry Brown, said Democrats illegally acted to move Brown’s measure toward the top of the fall ballot by passing a last-minute change to election law this week.

The lawsuit also alleges that election workers in Los Angeles and Alameda counties “failed to comply with their statutory duties” by recording petitions for Brown’s campaign before Munger’s, even though the governor’s petitions were handed in after hers.

“We came to court today asking for a fair shake, and we got it,” said Munger spokesman Nathan Ballard.

Deputy Atty. Gen. Ross C. Moody, representing the secretary of state, argued that delaying the numbering of the initiatives would wreak havoc on the fall election. “The more you slow it down and the more you tinker with it … [the more you] create the possibility of errors in the process,” he said.

Frawley disagreed and said he would hear Munger’s entire complaint next month.

Secretary of state spokeswoman Nicole Winger was not immediately available for comment.

Related links:

Jerry Brown's tax measure faces legal challenge

Rivals of Jerry Brown submit signatures for tax initiative

Wealthy California siblings crusade for divergent political causes

-- Anthony York and Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento

Photo: Molly Munger. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press