Referendum on Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage Law Defeated, Despite Brief Reporting Glitch
State officials on Wednesday announced that a filing error by San Diego County election officials caused Nov. 2 election returns to show a larger-than-actual percentage of support to uphold SB 2, a state law requiring some employers to provide health care benefits to workers, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (Ainsworth, San Diego Union-Tribune, 12/2).
Under Proposition 72, residents could vote "yes" to uphold or "no" to repeal SB 2.
Data posted on the secretary of state Web site following the close of the polls showed that 50.9% of state voters supported repealing SB 2 and 49.1% of voters favored upholding the law. However, on Tuesday officials during a count of remaining absentee and provisional ballots posted results on the Web site that showed 50.5% of voters favored upholding the law. After a few hours, officials removed the figures because they suspected a clerical error (California Healthline, 12/1).
The official tally on Wednesday, after all ballots had been counted, showed that 49.1% of voters favored upholding the law, garnering 202,854 fewer votes than the opposition (Rau, Los Angeles Times, 12/2). The secretary of state Web site was updated Wednesday (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 12/1).
San Diego County elections officials "ran into a glitch" when a column of results filed by the county for Proposition 60A was misaligned and incorrectly reported as the results for Proposition 72, the Union-Tribune reports. About 77% of voters in San Diego County voted to approve Proposition 60A, while 44% voted to uphold SB 2.
Officials questioned the results because "Proposition 72 wasn't that close" in the county, according to the Union-Tribune (San Diego Union-Tribune, 12/2).
According to the Sacramento Bee, SB 2 was opposed by several large businesses, and the campaign to uphold it "did poorly in heavily Republican areas, such as San Diego County" (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 12/2).
Secretary of state spokesperson Caren Daniels-Meade called the mistake a "typo" and said it was the result of "human error." She added that it was not related to the ballot counting procedure or the electronic voting system (Gledhill, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/2). According to the Union-Tribune, Daniels-Meade indicated that transmittal errors "are not uncommon" when officials are updating election results, but they are "usually of little consequence."
Health Access Executive Director Anthony Wright said that the results are "a testament to how close this election was that one error in one county was the margin. It shows that despite every dollar and every scare tactic that the opposition could muster, half of Californians voted for health reform. Whether it is just under or over half is still the question."
California Restaurant Association President and CEO Jot Condie said, "It is clear that a majority of Californians agreed with us that Prop. 72 was bad medicine for our state's economy" (Feder Ostrov/Gladstone, San Jose Mercury News, 12/2). He added, "We've certainly taken the approach that this was the right problem, wrong solution. The fact that the wrong solution is disposed of doesn't necessarily make this issue go away" (Los Angeles Times, 12/2).