New One Voter now online.

Today, on the centennial of California’s initiative and referendum, we are relaunching the One Voter website. Among the new information that we’ve added are;

* A new blog covering our research of California’s political history and commentaries on current political trends

* Links to some of the most interesting legislative committee reports in California’s history

Now, one thing we would caution you about; because this website is primarily written by someone who currently works for the California Legislature, we will be trying to cut a wide berth around current events.

Centennial of Initiative, Referendum, Recall, and Suffrage

Today (October 10th) marks the centennial of California’s Initiative, Referendum, Recall, and Suffrage. In a special election on this day in 1911, voters approved several ballot measures that forever changed California.

Assemblyman William C. Clark

A name that you’ve probably never heard before is that of William C. Clark. Clark served only two terms in the Assembly (1911 and 1913) but left his mark through a series of important bills.

SCA 22 (joint authored with Senator Lee C. Gates) which gave California voters the right of initiative and referendum.

SCA 23 (joint authored with Senator Lee C. Gates) which gave California voters the ability to recall statewide and legislative elected officials.


Another notable legislator was Senator Charles W. Bell, author of SCA 8, which gave women the right to vote in California nearly a decade ahead of those in the rest of the United States. In 1918, Californians would elect the first four women to the legislature.

Finally, Senator Albert Eugene Boynton and Assemblyman C. C. Young authored a bill that abolished the “party circle” and “party line” ballots and gave Californians the right to vote for the candidates of their choice on uniform secret ballots. The following session, Young became Assembly Speaker (1913-1919) which he held until he was elected Lieutenant Governor.


One last interesting historical note is that it’s easy to forget that the major changes created by these bills were not universally supported;
SCA 8 (Women’s Suffrage) was opposed by 5 Senators and 12 Assemblymembers.
SCA 23 (Recall) was opposed by 4 Senators and 10 Assemblymembers.
SCA 22 (Initiative and Referendum) was opposed by a single Senator.

Record Setting Legislative Turnover

Based on the current numbers, it appears that California may have more new legislators in 2013 than it has seen in nearly a century. There are 120 inumbent state legislators, of whom 29 will be terming out this year;

7 State Senators; Alquist, Calderon, Dutton, Harman, Kehoe, Lowenthal, Simitian

22 Assemblymembers; Beall, Calderon, Cedillo, Cook, Davis, Eng, Feuer, Fuentes, Garrick, Huffman, Jeffries, Mendoza, Brownley, Portantino, Carter, Galgiani, Hayashi, Ma, Silva, Smyth, Solorio, Swanson

Additionally, a large number are running for other offices;

Congress; At least three Senators (Blakeslee, Negrete McLeod, and Vargas) and three Assemblymembers (Hall, Hernandez, and Miller), possibly also Assemblymembers Torres and Valadao. [Source]

State Senate (Block, Fong, Monning, Perez (V.M.), Harkey, Lowenthal, Williams)

Mayor; Senator Yee (San Francisco), Assemblyman Fletcher (San Diego)

Redistricting. Finally, redistricting has impacted several seats, either changing them to favor the other party (Huber, Gorell) or placing multiple incumbents in the same district (Dickinson vs. Pan, Strickland vs. Pavley)

This brings the total number of new legislators to somewhere in the range of 40 to 50. The election of 43 new legislators would set the record for turnover going back to 1935, while reaching a total of 50 would tie for the most since 1917.