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Logo of the petition drive campaign

Backers of a $5.5 billion ballot initiative to save the California stem cell research program from financial extinction said today that they had finished their petition drive to qualify the measure for the November ballot and expressed confidence that they had the more than 600,000 signatures needed. 

The announcement came after the campaign had missed three of its self-imposed deadlines for collecting 950,000 signatures as well as the state-recommended deadline of April 21.  The campaign said that the petitions have been delivered to county election officials around the state for verification of the signatures, a lengthy process that must be completed by June 15. If the work is not finished by then, the measure will not appear on the ballot. 
 
The initiative needs 623,212 valid signatures to qualify. The campaign's news release today said it had 925,000, down from its goal of 950,000. However, disqualification rates can run as high as 50 percent. Early last month after its public signature-gathering was halted because of coronavirus restrictions, it said had only 915,000. The campaign then kicked off what...
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