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.
"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."