The Privacy For All Students (PFAS) coalition today announced they have submitted over 620,000 signatures to elections officials to qualify a statewide referendum allowing voters to reject the co-ed bathroom law (AB 1266) that was enacted by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. The coalition needs 504,760 valid voter signatures to qualify the referendum. Once validated by elections officials, the law will be suspended until voters decide whether to approve or reject it.
"We are grateful to the thousands of volunteers who have worked tirelessly in churches and neighborhoods across California," said Gina Gleason of Faith & Public Policy, the referendum proponent. "Many people said we had no chance to collect over half a million signatures in just 90 days, but we have proven them wrong by gathering over 115,000 more signatures than the minimum needed."
AB 1266 is a law that opens sex-separated school facilities such as showers, bathrooms and locker rooms to students of the opposite sex regardless of their actual gender if they claim an identity with that sex. The law is scheduled to go into effect on January 1st unless the referendum qualifies for the ballot.
PFAS collected approximately 400,000 volunteer signatures, which were supplemented by just over 220,000 paid signatures.
"As far as we are aware, this is the largest number of volunteer signatures ever submitted in a California referendum campaign," said Karen England of Capitol Resources Institute, a member of the PFAS executive committee. "It shows the degree of opposition that exists to opening the most vulnerable areas of public schools to the opposite sex."
Campaign Manager Frank Schubert said the referendum has a good chance of qualifying for the ballot, but that it could come down to the wire. "The validity rate of volunteer signatures is considerably higher than those for a paid signature drive," Schubert said. "Historically, elections officials invalidate a significant percentage of signatures but many of our volunteer petitions have a validity rate of over 90%. We will be completing our internal validity checks over the next few days, but we believe the referendum has a good chance of qualifying. It's likely going to be very close one way or another."
Now that signatures have been submitted to elections officials in each of the 58 counties, they have eight working days to conduct a raw count. Because PFAS has submitted far more than the minimum number of signatures needed, the Secretary of State will then order counties to conduct a random sample of signatures, a process that takes up to 30 working days. PFAS expects that the random sample results will trigger a full check of signatures, which will take up to an additional 30 working days.
"We'll be working hard throughout this verification process to fight for every valid signature," Schubert said. "The thousands of volunteers who have devoted themselves to the effort deserve nothing less."