Oakland, CA — Yesterday, the Alameda County Superior Court rejected an eleventh-hour application to remove a key measure from the November 2022 ballot. On June 21st, the City Council passed a resolution placing a measure on the 2022 ballot that would amend the City Charter to allow the Council to adopt an ordinance authorizing certain non-citizen Oakland residents to vote in Oakland school board elections if they are otherwise eligible to vote under state and local law.
The challengers in Lacy v. Reed sought to deny current voters their fundamental right to vote on the ballot measure, claiming that it is unconstitutional. However, recognizing that fundamental right to vote and the importance of voter decisions regarding enfranchisement, courts almost never rule on constitutional challenges to ballot measures before they are approved by voters—as the challengers asked the Court to do in this case. The Court refused and applied its typical rule to this challenge.
This challenge not only requested an unusual remedy, but was also unnecessarily delayed. Although the Council voted to place the charter amendment on the ballot in June, the challengers—several individuals and organizations—waited until last week to file a hurried petition asking the Court to remove the measure from the ballot and deprive Oakland voters of their right to vote on the ballot measure. The Court therefore was forced to decide the challenge expeditiously—by Friday, September 2—to avoid interference with the deadlines for printing and issuance of ballots and voter pamphlets.
“The Court’s ruling is a victory for voters and gratifying for the City,” said Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker. “Sadly, disenfranchising existing and potential future voters by removing an important measure such as this from the ballot is one tactic among many attacks on the right to vote today in this country. But for now, at least in Oakland, those attacks will not succeed.”