Ninth Circuit Sends Case over California Residency Requirement for Circulators to Mediation

On August 21, the Ninth Circuit issued an order in Libertarian Party of Los Angeles County v Bowen, the case over California’s residency requirement for petition circulators. The law says they cannot work outside of their home district. California and Pennsylvania are the only states that still have residency requirements within a district for petition circulators, and the Pennsylvania requirement has been declared unconstitutional, at least as applied to general election petitions.

California had argued that because it doesn’t enforce the law, the plaintiffs don’t have standing. Plaintiffs had argued that the Secretary of State’s web page misleads people, because it mentions the requirement and does not say that it isn’t enforced. By contrast, the Secretary of State’s web page also mentions the one-year residency requirement for candidates for the legislature, but an asterisk on the web page says that requirement is not enforced.

Presumably, in mediation, the plaintiffs will ask that the Secretary of State’s web page indicate that the residency requirement for circulators is not enforced, and also that the Secretary of State redesign the petition forms so the circulator is no longer forced to sign a declaration that he or she lives in the district.

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