Update: Supervisors David Chiu and Scott Wiener introduce dueling ballot pamphlet measures.
Can a book topping 500 pages still be labeled a "pamphlet"? That's the situation San Francisco may be facing, as the gargantuan legal text of the referendum targeting the 8 Washington development portends a voter pamphlet of Tolstoy-like proportions.
Supervisor Scott Wiener will today introduce a measure to prevent gargantuan legal texts from weighing down voter pamphlets. Under current city rules, every last word -- all 500 pages worth, perhaps -- is mandated to be included in those voter guides. Wiener's ordinance would provide the option of cutting them off at 20 pages, with the full text readable online, in public libraries, or available to be mailed to voters free of charge. Considering the Department of Elections estimates that each printed page in the pamphlet corresponds to a $3,500 outlay, eliminating 500-odd pages from the booklet would save around $1.75 million.
"This makes a lot of sense," Wiener says. "You'll save a lot of money and a lot of trees."
Wiener noted that this is how they do it across the bay in Alameda County. This came as a surprise, however, to personnel at the Alameda County registrar of voters.
Texts are truncated infrequently enough in Alameda County that multiple employees we spoke with had no idea this was a permissible activity. Cynthia Cornejo, the county's deputy registrar, said that, in rare instances, a jurisdiction has opted to edit a lengthy text -- with a note informing voters where they can find it online or how to obtain a free copy.
Cornejo notes that "there is no limitation of pages" and said texts often run 20 or 30 pages -- or more. Her office oversees around 100 jurisdictions including special districts, school districts and cities. One of them may opt to edit a legal text every other year, if that.
Alameda County voters can also opt out of receiving a printed voter pamphlet -- but not many have. Thus far, 3,752 voters out of 805,058 have gone paperless.