Poll Shows Overwhelming Support for SB 636, the Ballot DISCLOSE Act

* 79% of voters say it is important to know who supports ballot measures when they vote, but only 21% are very confident that they know this information

By Press Release
California Clean Money Campaign, January 14th, 2020

CULVER CITY, CA -- A poll conducted of 661 likely November 2020 California voters between July 22nd and August 22nd (2019) showed that an overwhelming percentage of voters say it is important to them to know who supports and opposes ballot measures when they vote, but that many of them aren't confident they know this information or think it's easy to find -- issues addressed by SB 636, the Ballot DISCLOSE Act. A parallel poll showed that SB 636 would have a significant positive impact on how voters say they would vote on past ballot measures.

The poll found that 79% of likely November 2020 voters say it's important to them "to know who supports and opposes ballot measures when they vote". These results hold across the political spectrum with 84% of Democrats, 80% of Republicans, and 70% of Independents saying supporters and opponents were "Very important" or "Somewhat important" to know.

Despite the importance of this information to the vast majority of voters, the poll further found that only 21% of likely voters were very confident they knew the important supporters and opponents of ballot measures when they vote. And although the ballot pamphlet lists key supporters and opponents who signed the official arguments for and against ballot measures, only 42% of likely voters said they "know how to find propositions' supporters and opponents in the ballot pamphlet and it's quick and easy". The rest said it wasn't quick and easy, that they didn't know where to find them in the ballot pamphlet, or that they didn't even know they could find them there.

These results probably explain why the poll also found that 75% of likely voters favor "adding to the ballot a short list of the supporters and opponents of each ballot proposition" -- precisely what SB 636, the Ballot DISCLOSE Act would do. Support was across the board with 80% of Democrats, 72% of Republicans, and 70% of Independents in favor.

Authored by Senator Henry Stern (D-Calabasas) and sponsored by the California Clean Money Campaign, SB 636 would add a short list of the supporters and opponents who signed the official arguments for and against a measure in the ballot pamphlet to the current 75 word title, summary, and fiscal analysis already shown on the ballot. A maximum of 15 words describing the supporters and 15 words describing the opponents would be added.

"The results of the poll confirm that the vast majority of voters want to know who supports and opposes ballot measures when they vote, but often don't know who they are and can't easily find them," said Trent Lange, President of the California Clean Money Campaign, sponsor of SB 636. "The Ballot DISCLOSE Act will provide that crucial information to voters when and where it matters most -- on the ballot itself."

A second survey of 622 likely November 2020 voters included questions showing how the ballot would look with SB 636 in place (using actual previous ballot propositions) found that SB 636 would have a significant positive impact on how people say they would vote.

Together, the surveys found that having SB 636's short list of official supporters and opponents as part of the ballot labels increases by 9% the voters who say they would vote "Yes" on measures supported by one or more organizations they trust and not opposed by any they trust. Similarly, SB 636 decreases by 9% the voters who say they would vote "No" on measures opposed by one or more organizations they trust and not supported by any they trust.

Both polls were conducted online by the California Clean Money Campaign using respondents weighted to match a likely November 2020 California turnout model by party, gender, age, and race. To compare how voters said they would vote with versus without SB 636, the first poll asked respondents how they would vote using the actual ballot title, summary, and fiscal analysis on five past propositions. The second poll asked how different but demographically matched respondents would vote on the same propositions but with the short list of official supporters and opponents included as required by SB 636. Both polls later provided respondents with a list of organizations and asked whether knowing whether they supported or opposed a proposition would make them more or less likely to vote the way the organization recommended. The margin of error of each poll is +/-4%.

"Sunshine is the best disinfectant - and the CA DISCLOSE Act cleared many of the clouds that inhibit transparency in our elections," said Senator Henry Stern, author of SB 636. "But voters still deserve to know who's behind ballot measures when they vote on them. SB 636 will provide this critical information."

SB 636 passed the Senate on an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 31-5 last year before becoming a two-year bill. It will be heard in the Assembly Elections Committee sometime later this year. A more detailed presentation of the SB 636 poll results can be found here. A Fact Sheet describing the bill can be found here.

"DISCLOSE" is an acronym for Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections.

The California Clean Money Campaign is a non-partisan 501(c)(3) organization that has been dedicated to educating the public about the need to lessen the unfair influence of Big Money on election campaigns since 2001. For further information, visit www.CAclean.org.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

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