Outdoor pot ban, State of Jefferson initiative take different paths to the ballot | TheUnion.com
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Outdoor pot ban, State of Jefferson initiative take different paths to the ballot

Joey Rivera, of Tuolumne County, Calif., bows his head in prayer during a rally calling for the creation of the state of Jefferson, at the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016, in Sacramento, Calif. Supporters said creating the 51st state, along the California-Oregon border, would give them the government representation they claim they are not getting. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
AP | AP

Two unrelated Nevada County ballot measures are moving through the bureaucratic electoral process toward the June 7 primary.

The first — an initiative to ban outdoor marijuana grows and limit indoor grows to a dozen plants — will appear on the ballot with little effort.

The other — a measure asking the Board of Supervisors to formally support the State of Jefferson — requires thousands of signatures, a verification process and a strict time line. It’s uncertain if it can meet the deadline to reach the June ballot.



“There’s two different processes that are happening right now,” said Sandra Sjoberg, assistant county clerk/registrar of voters.

The reason for the different paths to the ballot box stems from who started the measures.




Government-initiated measures require no petitions or voter signatures. That streamlines the process.

The Board of Supervisors last week approved an urgency ordinance that immediately created the outdoor grow ban. It then opted to send the issue to the voters in June.

The board has since sent a resolution to the county elections office calling for the vote, Sjoberg said.

That resolution will lead to deadlines for both supporters and opponents to deliver their arguments and rebuttals. The county attorney will write an impartial analysis of the question. Both the analysis and the arguments will be printed and made available to the public.

“It’s completely different when it’s a board,” Sjoberg said. “Any board can put an initiative on a ballot.”

There are a lot more steps involved with a citizen-initiated measure.

Supporters of the State of Jefferson ballot measure in Nevada County have until Jan. 31 to get 3,840 signatures to Sjoberg’s office. The number is 10 percent of the total votes cast in the last gubernatorial election.

Eddie Garcia, a Jefferson supporter, said his group has just under 5,000 signatures. He wants to reach 5,500 before giving them to Sjoberg.

“Which is very attainable,” Garcia said. “We have until the end of the month.”

Having over 1,000 more signatures than needed gives Garcia a buffer, in case some signers live out of county.

The State of Jefferson issue still might not make the June ballot, even if supporters meet the Jan. 31 deadline. That’s because elections officials must verify a portion of the signatures. Any discrepancy that requires officials to expand their sampling likely will push the time line off track and onto the November general election ballot.

According to Sjoberg, the Board of Supervisors must pass a resolution at least 88 days before the election calling for the vote. That means the elections office must verify the signatures at least 14 days before that board meeting to give public notice.

Barring a specially called meeting, that makes March 8 the last day the board could call for a June 7 election about the State of Jefferson. Missing that date would push it to November.

Garcia fears the issue wouldn’t get the same level of attention in the general election.

“We prefer the primary, but if we can’t, we’ll get it on the November ballot,” he added.

Margaret Joehnck, Nevada County coordinator for Keep It California, questions the need for a vote. She cited media reports from last week’s State of Jefferson gathering at the state Capitol that claimed Nevada County supports the movement.

“What’s the point of having an election when they have already sent a list of unverified names to the secretary of state and the legislature stating that Nevada County is ‘in’?” Joehnck asked. “It makes it a bit unclear as to what they’re really doing. We’ll be out in force to tell the real story, particularly the financial disaster this would be if this ever makes the ballot.”

Jefferson supporters are navigating the same process Measure S proponents tackled about two years ago. A marijuana-based initiative, Measure S also needed signatures and had to pass the vetting of the elections office — requirements that don’t apply to the board’s current marijuana ordinance.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.


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