Why Won't Debra Bowen Do Her Job?


When I volunteered to be the proponent of the referendum to overturn the co-ed bathroom law, I knew that it would be a tough task.  While the majority of Californians instinctively know that boys and girls should not be forced to share bathrooms, locker rooms and showers, a vocal minority was making sexual integration of bathrooms their cause.


But I did not know that I would also be fighting so many government officials along the way.  Perhaps I was naive in believing that employees in county registrars offices and the Secretary of State were supposed to be unbiased in doing their job.  Unfortunately I was wrong.


As most of you know, as the proponent of the referendum, I had to sue Debra Bowen, the California Secretary of State, to force her to count signatures thrown out in two northern counties.  The facts were shocking.  In one county a Federal Express delivery person was turned away at the county mail room.  He was told to come back several days later, after the deadline to submit signatures.  He brought the package back as directed and the Secretary of State said those signatures would not be counted.  Bowen ignored the action of the county employee and simply said that the signatures were turned in too late. 


The judge in Gina Gleason versus Debra Bowen saw it differently.  He was emphatic that the Secretary of State needed to count those signatures.  His preliminary judgment was so strong that the Secretary of State and her attorneys did not even show up for the hearing.


More than two months have passed since that ruling.  In that time the full count of signatures was completed and PFAS was told that we were 17,276 signatures short of the number needed to qualify.  It was assumed we would cry a few tears and move on.  But we knew that there were easily 17, 276 improperly rejected signatures in the more than 131,000 that were tossed out.  And we would fight for those just as we had for the signatures Debra Bowen threw out in those two northern California counties.


This week we were notified that the Secretary of State was going to appeal the ruling in Gleason v. Bowen


Perhaps it is because she knows that we will be able to identify more than enough improperly rejected signatures. 


Perhaps it is because she knows that the appeal will cost us time and money while her legal team comes free of charge from the State. 


Perhaps it is a way to delay reimbursing PFAS the legal fees we spent in her earlier loss in court.


But I am not giving up.  In fact, I am going to take every opportunity I can to point out that the Secretary of State is acting much more like an advocate than a referee.


And I am going to ask you to show the Secretary of State that we will not be bullied


This fight is far from over.  Please help me assure that this latest outrage from the Secretary of State will not drain our funds.  Please donate to keep our team fighting to qualify the referendum and to fight back against the shameful tactics of our government officials.


Thank you for your prayers and support.


Gina Gleason


The following article was written by Matthew McReynolds and appeared in the Flash Report on March 13, 2014. 
Disenfranchising the Disabled-Democracy Takes a Hit in California

As an attorney with the Pacific Justice Institute, I have been part of the legal team seeking to assure the fair validation of signatures for the referendum on AB 1266, the "co-ed bathroom bill." I was also heavily involved in the effort to defeat this outlandish bill in the Legislature.

So imagine my surprise and outrage when I learned recently that one of the signatures tossed out by elections officials reviewing our petitions ... was my own. You read that correctly-a petition from one of the key backers of the referendum, more familiar than most with the rules, was not good enough to satisfy elections workers here in Sacramento County. So what did I do wrong? The explanation was that my signature didn't look exactly like it had on my registration card. And you know what? They're probably right; my signature has undoubtedly changed over the last few years as I have become totally blind and no longer able to see what I've written. That's a long story that I'll save for another day. But my disability shouldn't prevent me from participating in such a core function of democracy as signing a referendum petition.

What's really scary is that I only found out I had been disenfranchised because I am very involved in the massive effort by the Privacy for All Students coalition to examine the signatures that were invalidated. Otherwise, I would never have even known that officials were quietly taking away my rights. Consider for a moment that roughly 130,000 signatures of the 620,000 submitted by PFAs have been thrown out. We've been highly skeptical from the beginning that so many signatures were really invalid. Now our worst fears are being confirmed. We are finding subjective standards that vary from county to county. A signature that might be validated in one county might not be validated in the next county.

How many other disabled people like myself have been disenfranchised without even knowing it? How many senior citizens whose signatures have changed since they registered, perhaps decades ago? We don't yet know, but we're getting to the bottom of it. With such a thin margin between victory and defeat-less than 20,000 out of the 620,000 total signatures submitted-we are determined to make every valid signature count.

Maybe you don't care about this particular referendum or shy away from hot-button social issues. But you don't have to be a flaming conservative to care about the fundamental principle that grassroots democracy like referendum efforts should not be thwarted by subjective, unknowable criteria imposed at the whims of elections officials. That's something we should all be able to agree on-and something that is threatened by the present process.

Matt McReynolds is an attorney with the 
Pacific Justice Institute.
We intend to fight to have every valid signature counted. 


Donate today to help PFAS challenge those signatures improperly deemed invalid.

Make a contribution to Privacy For All Students today!


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Privacy For All Students -Stop AB 1266

660 J Street, Ste., 250

Sacramento, CA 95814

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