Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Supporters of $5.5 Billion California Stem Cell Measure Miss Third Deadline, Including One Recommended by the State

Backers of a $5.5 billion, California stem cell research proposal this morning once again missed their self-imposed, but important deadline for qualifying the measure for the ballot this fall in hopes of saving the financial life of the state stem cell agency. 

It was the third time that the ballot initiative campaign has missed its own deadlines for gathering signatures as time is running out. The first deadline was April 11. The second deadline was April 18. The third deadline was April 21 (yesterday). The next deadline is April 23 (tomorrow).

Yesterday was also the deadline recommended by state election officials for submitting the signatures to all of California's 58 counties.  The state's recommendation is not a legal cutoff, but appears aimed at ensuring enough time exists to complete the lengthy certification process for the November ballot.

The proposed ballot initiative would refinance the state stem cell agency, known formally as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). It is running out of its original $3 billion and is expected to begin closing its doors next fall. 

The campaign, which is independent of the agency, had little to say about its signature-gathering problems. The California Stem Cell Report this morning asked the campaign how many signatures it has on hand.  Sarah Melbostad, a spokeswoman for the campaign, replied:
"They are still in the process of counting them but we will let you know as soon as we have an updated number to share."
It was not clear whether the campaign actually knows how many signatures it currently has or whether, on the other hand, it has an actual number but is simply not releasing it publicly. The campaign did not respond to a question this morning on that matter. 

Several weeks ago, the campaign said it had 915,000 signatures. That was when it set its April 11 deadline to secure 35,000 more. It needs only 623,212 to qualify for the ballot, but many signatures are disqualified as elections official in each county checks to see whether the signatures represent actual registered voters. 

Melbostad said, 
"We’re continuing to get petitions in the mail every day from our patient advocacy-driven and direct-mail signature gathering efforts. The campaign is planning to submit signatures to the counties in the next two weeks to ensure that the counties and the state have sufficient time to count and verify signatures for the November ballot."
If election officials have not certified the necessary signatures by June 15, the stem cell measure will not appear on the ballot. The certification process can be prolonged and likely more so under the difficult conditions imposed by the coronavirus crisis. 

State election officials provide recommended deadlines under normal conditions for submitting petitions to qualify ballot measures. They depend on the method used for qualification: random sampling or "full check." Under the random sample method, the recommendation is to submit petitions to county election officials by yesterday (April 21). Under the full check method, March 3 was the recommended deadline. 


  1. Anonymous12:21 PM

    I'd like to weigh in on the competency of the campaign to place a $5.5 billion stem cell measure on the November ballot. Can't the campaign count? Why is it so late to the game when state election officials made it clear that backers of initiatives needed to get their signatures in earlier?

  2. Anonymous1:37 PM

    The ship is going down. Are the rats scampering away? How long do you think?


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