Yes on P campaign demands county fix ballot language for Election Day

Fresno voters will decide on a sales tax hike to benefit local parks on Nov. 6

Measure P is a local sales tax hike initiative that, if approved by voters, will help improve parks in Fresno.
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Measure P is a local sales tax hike initiative that, if approved by voters, will help improve parks in Fresno.

The Yes on P campaign is seeking corrective action from the Fresno County Clerk after ballots and voter guides were printed with incomplete language for Measure P.

Attorneys for Yes on P on Monday sent Fresno County Counsel Daniel Cederborg a letter requesting the correct ballot language be provided to voters at precincts on Election Day.

“Fresno County has the responsibility to voters to ensure that their vote is made based on complete information. …We expect the county to correct their mistake by providing voters with the correct ballot language at each voting location before their votes are cast,” said Larry Powell, former Fresno County Superintendent of Schools and co-chair of the Yes On P campaign.

County officials on Monday said the letter was under review and expected to respond in the coming days.

Measure P on the Nov. 6 ballot proposes a 3/8-cent sales tax that would generate $37.5 million annually for 30 years for Fresno parks and cultural arts.

The Yes on P campaign, city of Fresno leaders and County Clerk Brandi Orth have debated for a week about who made a mistake and how much it matters. While Yes on P backers say the mistake could affect the outcome of the election, some Fresno City Council members doubted it would make a difference. Meanwhile, Orth has maintained the ballots are valid with the shorter Measure P question.

Last week, the Fresno City Council voted to correct the city clerk’s mistake and send postcards with correct ballot language to all city voting households. Some council members worried the postcards would be mistaken for an endorsement and complained that the other parties involved weren’t taking action to correct the mistake.

Although the county clerk’s office received from the city clerk’s office a certified resolution with incomplete Measure P language, the county published a public notice in The Bee with the complete language. The incomplete language ended up on the ballot.

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As of Monday, the county’s election website still linked to the incorrect city of Fresno resolution, even though the city sent a corrected resolution. However, the ordinance on the county website includes the full and correct ballot language for Measure P.

In previous statements to The Bee, Orth said it’s not unusual for municipalities to change their minds on language, and she couldn’t speculate on what the city’s intent was for the mismatched language.

“The synopsis of the measure prepared by the city attorney is what is legally required to be published, and that was done,” she said.

Brianna Calix: 559-441-6166, @BriannaCalix