Three separate lawsuits have just been filed seeking changes in the information materials mailed to voters for two initiatives on the November 6 statewide ballot.
The lawsuits are a reminder of the importance that political groups place on the official documents that many voters carefully review before casting a ballot.
Two of the lawsuits are focused on the ballot summaries for Proposition 32, the initiative that seeks to ban union and corporate donations to legislative candidates, as well as political cash gathered by deductions from employee paychecks.
The official proponent of Prop 32 filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Sacramento Superior Court calling the ballot label prepared by Attorney General Kamala Harris "false and/or misleading" for itsdescriptionof what the initiative does -- and does not -- do.
The lawsuit claims that Harris' summary uses prejudicial words like "restricts" when describing Prop 32's impact on union political spending. It also alleges that a sentence saying the initiative does not block "other political expenditures" by corporations does nothing to describe the measure itself -- and thus, should be deleted.
But the organized labor opponents to Prop 32 don't seem to happy with the attorney general, either. On Tuesday, the leader of the state's firefighters union sued Harris for a ballot summary sentence that he says suggests the initiative simply requires an employee to give permission for paycheck deductions used for politics.
"This is actually prohibited by Proposition 32," says the lawsuit filed by Lou Paulson, president of the California Professional Firefighters.
Meantime, an entirely different legal fight is being waged against Proposition 39, an initiative that would rework the tax structure for certain businesses in California.
Compared to this lawsuit, the previous two seem downright simple.
The lawsuit filed by Lew Uhler of the National Tax Limitation Committee seeks to block the ballot argument Prop 39's backers submitted for the official statewide voter guide... because, he says, it uses "revisionist history" about a hotly debated 2009 tax break created during budget negotiations.
In a nutshell: that 2009 deal created new flexibility for large corporations in calculating their state taxes, including an option allowing companies with very few California customers to only pay taxes based on those limited in-state sales.
Prop 39's supporters say their initiative simply undoes a "loophole" created "in a backroom deal."
But the lawsuit alleges that Prop 39 goes much further than just nixing the 2009 tax change and also would erase a business tax formula "that has been a part of California law since 1966."
"To suggest to voters" that Prop 39 is all about the recent provision, says the lawsuit, "is historically false and objectively misleading."
All three lawsuits will no doubt be fast tracked by the courts, given the tight schedule remaining before ballot materials are printed and distributed to the roughly 17 million registered California voters.
The new lawsuits, combined with the ongoing fight over the ballot position of Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative, serve as proof that political warriors are just as worried about the layout of the battlefield ahead... as they are the actual battles.