Prop. 1 Election isn’t Over, Opponents Say

Protestor Natalie Conrad tries to engage with students on a field trip to the Capitol during a lightly attended “Vote No on Prop. 1” protest on the west steps of the Capitol on Feb. 1, 2024. (Photo by Fred Greaves for CalMatters)

By Lynn La, CalMatters

On March 12 — a week after primary day — opponents of Proposition 1 waved the white flag, conceding that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s mental health ballot measure would likely pass.

Monday, the anti-Prop. 1 campaign withdrew its concession and revived its efforts. What changed?

For one thing, the vote count tightened: As of late Monday, Prop. 1 was leading by about 19,700 votes, with 7 million ballots counted and some 220,000 left to be tallied, according to the Secretary of State.

And for another, Newsom’s political action committee put out an appeal late last week for volunteers to reach out to Democrats who had their ballots rejected — for mismatched signatures or other reasons — to fix them and get them counted. The training was Sunday.

“Governor Newsom needs you…. The votes are being counted and it is CLOSE. Like, just a couple thousand votes close,” the appeal said.

Prop. 1 opponents called that strategy “sleazy” and “an attempt to manipulate the final vote count by harvesting the votes of only some partisans in certain areas.”

But the foes said they’re launching a similar effort and refocusing their website to help voters confirm their ballots were counted and to assist voters whose ballots were rejected.

  • Paul Simmons, a director of Californians Against Prop. 1, in a statement: “We don’t know if reviving rejected ballots will change the outcome of this election, but if the governor thinks it might, we for damn sure aren’t going to let him have the field to himself.”

About 42,500 voters have time to fix signature problems with their ballots, according to election analyst Paul Mitchell.

Asked about Prop. 1 during a visit to the state Capitol on Monday, Newsom told reporters: “We’re looking forward to the final count.”

The Prop. 1 results would have to get even closer, however, for a recount.

There are no automatic recounts for statewide ballot measures. But a campaign can request one in specific counties — if it’s willing to pay for it. That could be a hurdle for the cash-strapped Prop. 1 opponents if the measure narrowly passes.

There’s another provision in state law that could also come into play: The governor can order a state-funded hand recount of all votes statewide if the official results show a difference between “yes” and “no” votes on a ballot measure of 1,000 votes or less, or 0.00015 percentage points or less — and the latter would be the key number. As of the latest vote count, the second threshold is 1,056 votes for Prop. 1.

So if Prop. 1 fails that narrowly, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Newsom uses this provision. Such a recount order would have to come within 36 days of the primary, or mid-April.

November ballot update: Three more potential measures bit the dust. The Secretary of State’s office said late Monday that these initiatives failed to collect the 546,651 signatures needed to qualify:

A measure to require closed landfills to use aerobic technology to speed decomposition and reduce methane gas emissions. A measure to require the Secretary of State to develop an online platform for voters to view and electronically sign initiative, referendum, and recall petitions. And a measure to allow small solar farms on farmland sell electricity nearby without state regulations on safety or rates.

If you’re keeping score, that’s six measures for November that have been withdrawn or failed to qualify. So far, 10 measures are eligible, but proponents are trying to get many more on the Nov. 5 ballot.

This article was originally published by CalMatters.


Written by CalMatters is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics. (Articles are published in partnership with

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