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Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed a measure that would have made it illegal for petition circulators to be paid by the signature, his office announced today.

In a veto message, the Democratic governor said Senate Bill 168 by Sen. Ellen Corbett D-San Leandro, would drive up the cost of circulating petitions, "thereby further favoring the wealthiest interests."

Moreover, Brown wrote, the ban would eliminate any incentive program. "It doesn't seem very practical to me to create a system that makes productivity goals a crime."

Corbett's bill passed the Legislature on largely party-line votes, with Brown's fellow Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed. Supporters said the paid signature process invites abuses, including gatherers forging signatures and misinforming voters about the proposed measures.

Brown wasn't swayed: "This is a dramatic change to a long established democratic process in California," he wrote. "I am not persuaded that the unintended consequences won't be worse than the abuse the bill aims to prevent."

Corbett, in a statement, said she was disappointed in the veto. "Direct democracy can only work if voters know what they are signing and voting upon," she said. "This law has proved to be an effective remedy in other states to help prevent fraud without making it more difficult to put initiatives on the ballot."

Editor's note: This post was updated with Corbett's statement. Updated Aug. 1, 2011 at 5:52 p.m.


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