The primary purpose of the special election that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has called is to change the balance of power in Sacramento and nullify our system of checks and balances, State Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach) told members of the Pacific Palisades Democratic Club at a general meeting Sunday.
“It’s a travesty. This election will try to force the middle class to spend every nickel they have so that in June they won’t have any more money left to donate,” she said, referring to the 2006 primary election for statewide constitutional officers, including the governor.
Schwarzenegger called for the special election two weeks ago during a TV address, but according to Bowen, who is running for California Secretary of State in next year’s election, he could rescind the call.
“It has never been done before,” she explained. “The law is unclear, but we (the California State Legislature) can find a way to figure it out,” she said.
Secretary of State Bruce McPherson has estimated the special election would cost $44.7 million. Rather than wasting resources and taxpayer money, Bowen said, the governor should “get down to business and negotiate” to resolve his differences with the legisature and solve the state’s problems.
Before Bowen spoke, Harry Keiley, president of the Santa Monica-Malibu Teachers Association, told the club that the proposed initiatives are flawed and designed to favor special interest groups and corporations.
“Why is the governor not talking about making the schools good again?” he asked. “Because it takes money, time and commitment.”
Keiley said the governor’s proposed teacher tenure initiative, for example, would do nothing to improve the state’s public schools.
“The governor wants to say the problem is teachers, those bad teachers, those bad unions,” Keiley pointed out. “Well, sometimes there are bad teachers, but there are also bad policeman, bad fireman and bad governors, and he is one of them.”
According to Keiley, who has been president of the teachers union for six years, when problems arise with teachers, school administrators are equipped and able to deal with them and fix them.
“People are leaving [the teaching profession] in droves because they are not paid well, conditions are poor and they don’t feel respected and valued,” he said.
Keiley also criticized the “paycheck protection initiative” that would require public employee unions to get permission from its members before spending their dues on political action.
“The pay check protection initiative is pay check deception… It is an attempt to silence our voices, divide and conquer,” Keiley said.
He added that the Santa Monica-Malibu teacher’s union asks for a $6 monthly contribution from its members.
Should the special election take place, Keiley and Bowen agreed, since voter confidence is at an all-time low, the only way to ensure an accurate tally of votes is to demand paper ballots be used.
“There is no perfect voting system,” emphasized Bowen, chair of the Senate Elections Committee, adding that electronic systems invite mischief, such as the addition of wireless components that make the computers more vulnerable to hackers.
Currently slated for approval by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is a request for $25 million to upgrade the current Inka Voting System with a wireless component.
Non-partisan action groups, such as Citizens Act, are urging legislators to consider alternative ballot printing devices, such as the AutoMark Ballot Marking Device.
According to Carolyn Fowler of California Election Protection Network, AutoMark seems to meet most of the criteria of the language rights and disability groups, satisfies those who want to maintain paper ballots, and it works with the existing tabulation system, Micro Tally system.“Democracy is in counting, not voting,” Bowen reminded the group.