The effort to reform County of San Diego elections and align them with the City of San Diego and the State of California is underway.
The Full Voter Participation Act has been crafted to mirror Measure K, an initiative drafted by the Independent Voter Project in 2016 to end an “election law loophole” whereby candidates can win an election in the primary instead of the general election. City of San Diego voters passed Measure K with nearly 60% of the vote last year.
Now, proponents of the Full Voter Participation Act are collecting signatures to qualify for the 2018 November election.
WHAT THE FULL VOTER PARTICIPATION ACT WILL DO
First, it would require that all county candidates for office, which are County Supervisor, District Attorney, Sheriff, Assessor-Recorder-County Clerk, Treasurer-Tax Collector and County Board of Education, be elected at the November General Election, not the June primary.
Second, if just two candidates are on the ballot, the June election would be eliminated and the election would be held during the general election held during the November General. Initiative proponents say it’s a move that would save taxpayer dollars.
Third, the initiative would modify the procedure for write-in candidates to allow the Registrar of Voter to appropriately prepare the ballot.
State law holds that write-in candidates can submit papers to run for office 14 days before an election. AB 901 would push that deadline to 67 days for San Diego county, allowing the Registrar enough time to adjust the ballot accordingly.
To this point, the Initiative’s Title and Summary prepared by County Counsel notes, “This initiative would require the County to adopt local election rules requiring write-in candidates to file nomination papers before the deadline to print ballots for the Primary Election; which is currently 67 days prior to that election. The initiative would narrow the nomination period for write-in candidates from 43 days to approximately 10 to 15 days.”
MIRRORING MEASURE K
Assemblyman Todd Gloria, who supported Measure K, authored AB 901, which was approved and signed by Governor Brown last year. AB 901 authorized the amendment of county charter law, which will allow voters the option to require that elections be decided in November by initiative or by legislation.
Proponents of The Full Voter Participation Act say candidates should be elected when the most voters are participating, which, is clearly not the June Primary. According the County Registrar of Voters, turnout for the 2016 June Primary was 50.94%, for the General Election, it was 79% -- almost 30% higher.
Assemblyman Gloria said, “Decisions about who will serve the public and lead our government should occur when voter participation is at its highest. By aligning county elections with city, state, and federal election timelines, we can effectively reduce voter confusion and encourage participation.”
The signature gathering effort is underway. Proponents need to collect 67,837 verified signatures to qualify for the ballot. The initiative has been endorsed by a coalition of Taxpayers, community and voting rights leaders, union members and good government advocates.