Carl DeMaio, the leader of the Proposition 6 gas tax repeal campaign wants to recall Attorney General Xavier Becerra for what he termed a false title on the measure. While the title was vague, probably intentionally so, and a different title might bring different results as a recent PPIC poll indicated, attempting a recall against the Attorney General is a campaign trick. Instead of seeking a recall, attention and effort should be put behind a ballot measure removing the responsibility of writing the title and summary from the AG’s office.

Ballot titles matter. They can influence voters, especially those who spend little time considering initiatives but make up their minds on what the title says.

When the Public Policy Institute of California polled voters in September on Proposition 6, the question was asked two different ways. When the title provided by the Attorney General and an explanation of Proposition 6 was read to voters 39% approved the measure 52% opposed. When the idea of a gas tax repeal was presented simply–Do you favor or oppose repealing the recently passed increase in the state gas tax?–50% of the respondents favored repealing the tax while 46% opposed.

Titles certainly can make a difference but a recall effort won’t change things going forward. Those who helped fund putting Proposition 6 on the ballot, mostly Republican congressional candidates, will have little interest in funding a recall. Where do the funds come from? Even if a recall of the Attorney General gets on the ballot what are the chances of success?

To avoid conflicts in the future by a partisan office holder—no matter the party—having influence over ballot titles, the responsibility should be removed from the Attorney Generals’ office.

Faithful readers know I’ve been riding this horse for a long time. I’ve had critical articles of ballot titles created by past Attorney Generals. In 2011, I sat on a panel put on by Zocalo Public Square and the California Supreme Court Historical Society to discuss the initiative process, and when asked what one reform to the process I would seek, I didn’t hesitate to say remove the title and summary responsibility from the AG. I repeated that suggestion just this last Friday at the Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA) panel on the initiative process.

I also have a suggestion on who should take on the job of writing ballot titles and summaries. From a post two years ago celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Legislative Analyst’s Office, I wrote: Here’s my salute to celebrate the 75 years of the Legislative Analyst’s Office—I think it should be put in charge of ballot titles and summaries. Probably the last thing that office wants but its a sign of my respect for an office that does diligent, fair work and can avoid political questions as a non-partisan office.

I understand DeMaio’s frustration. But the recall is a waste of time. If DeMaio wants to perform a service for California voters, he should back moving the responsibility of writing ballot titles and summaries from the AG’s office.