Aug 07, 2002 -> Press Releases -> Lightfoot for Secretary of State -> LPC SLO Home

August 7, 2002
For Immediate Release

California Secretary of State candidate, Gail Lightfoot, resident of Arroyo Grande, congratulated fellow Libertarian Candidate Michael Denny's success in overturning the San Francisco Department of Elections Chinese Name Policy.

Lightfoot read fellow Libertarian Denny's press release regarding the surprise decision this morning. Denny reported as follows:

One week before the November elections filing deadline, John Arntz, Director of Elections announced the repeal of San Francisco's Chinese name policy for ballot translations. Angelina Wong of Channel 26 television reported that the Department of Elections said Candidate Denny had "won" the debate over the City's previous Chinese name policy.

The debate began when Candidate Denny filed papers with the Department of Elections (DOE) to run for the State Assembly in District 12. The DOE asked Denny for his Chinese name for the ballot translation. As Denny is active in the Chinese community and has a home in Taiwan, he was happy to provide his Chinese name. But the DOE rejected his Chinese name as it made him "seem Chinese" and might "confuse" Chinese voters. They insisted on using a phonetically transliterated version of his English name that results in a name that makes no sense in Chinese, and would never be used by a Chinese person.

The Chinese press normally uses this form of name for people who do not have Chinese names and/or who are not Chinese. However, here the Department of Elections policy was specifically using this form of name to identify the race of candidates to Chinese voters.

So Denny and his sons, who study Mandarin Chinese, went before the Election Commission and introduced themselves in Chinese using their Chinese names. Denny produced Election Department documents stating, "Chinese candidates who have their own Chinese names...don't need to be phonetically transliterated into Chinese." Denny pointed to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Anderson v. Martin, which found it unconstitutional for governments to identify the race of a candidate on the ballot.

Denny maintained that the ruling likewise precludes indicating a candidate is not of a particular race. The commission decided to hold a public hearing about the Chinese name policy and asked the City Attorney's Office to report their opinion. However, DOE took no action in spite of numerous letters and phone calls.

The DOE announcement conceding the policy change came one day before Denny planned to formally sue the DOE. Richard Winger, publisher of Ballot Access News and San Francisco political attorney Peter Bagatelos, assisted Denny in his case. The details are available on his website at

"It's unfortunate that my opponent Leland Yee couldn't recognize that this policy was wrong when I brought it to his attention", says Denny. "Career politicians seldom have the courage to fight bad policy if it might offend a core constituency. But I think Lee underestimated the community, and the DOE finally made a good decision. But the battle wasn't won without a fight. That's why private citizens must get involved in the process. We cannot expect career politicians to do the right thing."

"It is very apparent California needs outsiders to invade the turf of career politicians. The sooner the better." Lightfoot said. " I am telling voters a Libertarian is the perfect fit for Secretary of State. Why? Because it is the Libertarians who want most of all to hear all sides of an issue and from every candidate. The Secretary of State is the Chief Elections Officer and keeper of the State Archives. I will make sure our children understand political history and voters are fully informed on all issues and candidates." Lightfoot explained.

Lightfoot went on to say she knows Michael Denny and both his sons personally having spent a weekend at their San Francisco home during her campaign for US Senate in 2000. Denny hosted her visit to San Francisco graciously taking her to several other events during her trip to participate in the one radio debate between the candidates for US Senate. Lightfoot, Medea Benjamin and Jose Camahort were in the studio with other candidates on phone lines for the debate. Afterwards Medea said "She and I would never agree on anything." Lightfoot laughed. "I have to agree. We Libertarians are not about compromise. We are about individual Liberty and Choice, not government edict no matter how worthy."

Aug 07, 2002 -> Press Releases -> Lightfoot for Secretary of State -> LPC SLO Home