Press Release: SB 90, Ballot DISCLOSE Act, Introduced by Senator Henry Stern

* SB 90 will show voters who supports and opposes state ballot measures on the ballot itself

By Press Release, California Clean Money Campaign
California Clean Money Campaign, December 17th, 2020

CULVER CITY, CA - Following a year in which more money was spent on ballot propositions than any year in California history, often on ads that purposefully mislead voters, Senator Henry Stern (D-Los Angeles) has introduced SB 90, the Ballot DISCLOSE Act, to counteract the flood of money by having the ballot itself list one of the most important pieces of information voters want about state ballot measures: who supports and opposes them.

Authored by Senator Stern and sponsored by the California Clean Money Campaign, SB 90 will add a short list of the supporters and opponents that signed the official arguments for and against each state ballot measure in the voter information guide to the current 75 word title, summary, and fiscal analysis already shown on the ballot. A maximum of 15 words describing the supporters and 15 words describing the opponents will be added.

"The initiatives we vote on in California can be dense, and easily misunderstood, especially when large dollar campaigns are at play behind the scenes," said Senator Stern. "We want to take voters behind the scenes on their ballot and offer them a way to follow the money right at the point of voting. Knowing who supports and opposes an initiative tells you a lot about it, for better or for worse. So rather than force voters to navigate the misinformation on social media and the internet, we think this information belongs in the ballot itself."

A poll conducted by the California Clean Money Campaign of 661 likely November 2020 California voters between July 22nd and August 22nd 2019 showed that an overwhelming percentage of voters say it is important to them to know who supports and opposes ballot measures when they vote, but that most voters aren't confident they know this information or think it's easy to find. SB 90 addresses this problem.

The poll found that 79% of likely voters say it's important to them "to know who supports and opposes ballot measures when they vote". These results hold across the political spectrum with 84% of Democrats, 80% of Republicans, and 70% of Independents saying supporters and opponents were "Very important" or "Somewhat important" to know. Despite the importance of this information to the vast majority of voters, the poll found that only 21% of likely voters were very confident they knew the important supporters and opponents of ballot measures when they vote.

These results probably explain why the poll also found that 75% of likely voters favor "adding to the ballot a short list of the supporters and opponents of each ballot proposition" -- precisely what SB 90 will do. Support was across the board with 80% of Democrats, 72% of Republicans, and 70% of Independents in favor.

SB 90 is similar to SB 636 (Stern) of 2019. That bill, also sponsored by the California Clean Money Campaign, was supported by the California League of Conservation Voters, Consumer Watchdog, Courage California, Indivisible CA: StateStrong, Maplight, and Voices for Progress, among others. It passed the Senate on a bipartisan 31-5 vote but was held in the Assembly.

"One of the most important pieces of information for voters about ballot measures is which organizations support or oppose them, because voters know that organizations they trust have had the opportunity to study their ramifications in ways the voters themselves usually haven't," said Trent Lange, President of the California Clean Money Campaign, sponsor of SB 90. "That's why we're so thrilled Senator Stern is introducing the Ballot DISCLOSE Act to provide that crucial information to voters when and where it matters most -- on the ballot itself."

The bill will be assigned to the Senate Elections & Constitutional Amendments Committee and will be heard sometime in February or March.

"DISCLOSE" is an acronym for Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections.

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The California Clean Money Campaign is a non-partisan 501(c)(3) organization that has been dedicated to educating the public about the need to lessen the unfair influence of Big Money on election campaigns since 2001. For further information, visit www.CAclean.org.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)