POLITICS: Democrats plan disruption of GOP signature gathering to change the electoral vote distribution. By Steven Harmon MEDIANEWS SACRAMENTO BUREAU SACRAMENTO – The bitter partisan battle over how California’s electoral votes are distributed may soon be coming to a parking lot near you. The California Democratic Party said Thursday that it will send volunteers to supermarket and shopping center parking lots – or anyplace else people are pestered for signatures – to disrupt a petition-gathering effort to put a measure on the ballot that changes the way California’s electoral votes are distributed. The Democratic Party is so invested in the issue because if the measure is successful, the Republican candidate for president – even if he lost the statewide vote – could reap 20 electoral votes or more, tilting the election. It’s not the first time opponents of an initiative have tried such a tactic but it might be the largest effort, surpassing the statewide effort to block the 2003 recall of Gov. Gray Davis. “We’re asking volunteers and activists to be fraud busters,” Art Torres, the chairman of the state Democratic Party, said in a telephone conference call, “to help stop Republicans from stealing the White House.” Torres said he’s calling on party volunteers to help find the location of signature gatherers and post them on the state party’s Web site “so everybody can see where they are and we can proceed to the locations to offer rebuttals or register Democratic voters at the same time.” The initiative was submitted by a law firm that represents the state Republican Party. Backers of the electoral college initiative, which began collecting signatures this week, called the Democrats’ plan a “strong arm” tactic that will backfire. They need to collect 434,000 signatures by Feb. 4. Voters could recoil from the whole thing, said Fred Kimball, head of one of the state’s largest petition gathering companies, if they see two competing messages – which is exactly what Democrats are hoping. The initiative would overturn California’s winner-take-all method by distributing electoral votes by congressional district. The statewide winner in California would get two electoral votes, and the other 53 would be awarded according to the winner of each congressional district.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!