Two Weeks Later, a Newsom Homeless Measure Still Hangs in the Balance

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Two weeks after Super Tuesday, the vote in California is still too close to call on a mental health ballot measure that is a key piece of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to address homelessness.

Proposition 1 was supposed to pass easily. The $6.4 billion bond measure would finance housing and treatment for homeless people with mental illness or addiction, and California voters have repeatedly cited homelessness as one of their top concerns.

But as of Tuesday morning, the yes vote on the measure was ahead by fewer than 20,000 votes out of more than 7 million cast, according to the California Secretary of State’s office, and there were about 220,000 ballots remaining to be counted. The Associated Press has not yet called the result.

The margin is so close that both supporters and opponents have now begun efforts to “cure” mail-in ballots that have been excluded from the count so far because the signatures on them did not match those in state records. Paul Mitchell, a Democratic political consultant and political data expert, said in a social media post this week that the state had received a little more than 42,500 ballots with mismatched signatures.

Under state law, voters are notified when such a discrepancy occurs, and are given the chance to complete a form to have their ballots counted.

“This ballot initiative is SO CLOSE that your commitment to volunteer could mean the difference between people getting off the street and into the treatment they need … or not,” an appeal from Mr. Newsom’s federal political action committee told supporters last week, calling on them to reach out to Democrats whose ballots had been rejected.

The ballot-curing efforts could affect more than just the statewide proposition: In one Silicon Valley congressional district, for instance, only 12 votes separate two of the contenders for a spot in the November runoff, but there are 553 mail-in ballots that have been rejected because of signature issues, according to Mr. Mitchell.

Officials for the pro-Proposition 1 effort said last week that they expected the measure to pass, and that the ballot-curing appeal was purely a backstop. But on Monday, a campaign spokesman said that the training of volunteers for the voter outreach had begun over the weekend.

On Monday, opponents of Proposition 1 — a coalition of civil-liberties and disability-rights groups and mental health programs that could lose funding under the measure — announced that they, too, were reaching out to voters whose ballots might have been rejected.

“We don’t know if reviving rejected ballots will change the outcome of this election,” Paul Simmons, a director of Californians Against Prop. 1, said in a statement. “But if the governor thinks it might, we for damn sure aren’t going to let him have the field to himself.”


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