Saturday, June 12, 2010

Secret Ballot Not Required In Fee Elections Under Prop. 218

In Greene v. Marin County Flood Control and Water Conservation District (here), the Supreme Court held that a Article II, Section 7, which requires that Article II, Section 7, which provides that "voting shall be secret," does not require a totally secret ballot on fee elections under Prop. 218 (which requires an election on property-related fees except for water, sewer and garbage service). The Court relied on the provision in Article XIII D. Section 6(c), which provides that an agency may adopt procedures for fee elections that are similar to those compelled for assessment elections by Article XIII D, Section 4. Since that provision does not require secret ballots--indeed, it provides for weighted voting that requires that a voter's identity be known--neither does Article XIII D, Section 6(b). Because the agency in this case provided for a high degree of secrecy--ballots could only be inspected after the tabulation and then only by court order--the court found no constitutional violation. However, the court left open the possibility that lesser degree of secrecy might violate the constitution.

Congratulations to Mike Colantuono, who successfully represented the public agency defendant.

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