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Schwarzenegger Initiatives Find Difficulty Meeting Deadline

Governor Must Call Special Election By June 13 To Have Nov. 8 Ballot

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Tuesday was the deadline set by the secretary of state for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign team to hand in signatures for three initiatives that could be on a special ballot in November.

Secretary of State Bruce McPherson said Tuesday was what he called a "practical" deadline, designed to give counties time to do their signature verification duties. But the governor's political team said they're not ready and won't be for at least two more weeks.

Activist Ted Costa is spearheading a drive to qualify the governor's measure that would allow judges to redraw political boundaries. Costa's group is hampered by duplicate signatures, which may have been caused by overzealous petition workers who are getting paid by the signature, KCRA 3's Kevin Riggs reported.

"Of course, the (petition worker) at the table says, 'Why don't you just sign it twice? That way, (you) make sure that your signature is counted,'" Costa said.

Costa admits that he's unsure whether he can collect enough signatures, even by the end of the month, to qualify for a fall election. But the governor's political allies insist they're not worried, given a late start.

"We didn't start collecting signatures until slightly more than a month ago, maybe a little bit more than that," said California Business Roundtable spokesman Bill Hauck.

Hauck's group, Citizens to Save California, expects to turn in signatures in early May for measures dealing with redistricting and teacher pay for tenure.

Another measure on state spending is even further behind, and may not be submitted until mid-May, which is not good news for California's new secretary of state, McPherson, who knows it turns up the heat on county election workers.

"It tightens the noose around their necks, so to speak, because they have so much time to count and verify the signatures on the petitions," McPherson said.

The later the petitions, McPherson said, the later the special election might have to be called.

"The real deadlines here are related to when the election is called, when it's likely to occur," Hauck said.

Whenever the election is called, McPherson said he hopes the state will reimburse the counties for the cost.

"It's the proper thing to do, if you call a special election statewide, that the state cover the cost. But as I've said, that's the governor's decision," McPherson said.

That's a significant bill, with counties expected to pick up at least $60 million of the cost.

McPherson said the important date to watch now is June 13. Schwarzenegger must call the special election by then to have it on Nov. 8.

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