Local Politics

Wednesday, Jan 09 2013 11:29 AM

Rubio to seek to eliminate voter petition rule

By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

State Sen. Michael Rubio announced Wednesday he intends to write legislation eliminating the technicality that felled a recent petition drive calling for a special election to fill the Ward 1 Bakersfield City Council seat.

The bill by Rubio, D-Shafter, would allow petition circulators to complete the address portion of circulated petitions "so as to fully protect the will and democratic rights of voters."

"A similar process is already followed for California voter registration forms where someone may assist a person to complete the form so long as the newly registered voter signs their name and a person assisting notes on the form that they helped complete it," Rubio said in a news release.

Ward 1 residents recently submitted 2,120 signatures to compel an election this June to replace Rudy Salas, who was elected to the state Assembly in November.

Kern County elections officials disqualified 1,145 signatures, saying someone other than the voter filled out the residence portion of the petition. Only 577 signatures turned out to be valid -- some were disqualified for other reasons -- not enough to force an election.

The Bakersfield City Council will discuss tonight whether to hold an election, which could cost the city a pretty penny -- about $100,000 -- but, to some people, preserve the right of the people to choose their own representative.

"Invalidating over 1,000 signatures on a technicality is simply wrong," Rubio's news release said. "To make sure that this does not happen again and so that a technicality does not trump the voice of our constituents, I am set to introduce this important bill later this month to fix this problem."

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