By Doug Porter
Measures K and L are changes to the City Charter submitted through the efforts of the Alliance San Diego Mobilization Fund and the Independent Voter Project. Both groups have local experience in encouraging voter turnout.
These measures were championed by City Council President Sherri Lightner and placed on the November 2016 ballot by a vote of the City Council.
What they do in a nutshell is to shift the final decision making in elections to November. Measure K says the top two candidates as determined by primary voters for Mayor, City Council seats, and City Attorney advance to the general election. Measure L says citizen-sponsored initiatives and referendums belong on the November ballot.
Having worked in voter turnout efforts, I can say from personal experience that persuading people who are not normally engaged in politics to vote in primaries is a daunting task.
Back in the days when I had a speaking voice, I knocked on enough doors and made enough phone calls to know how hard it is to get people to shift their focus away from just making it through the day to even talk politics, much less make the commitment to vote. And, of course, the harder you have to struggle to survive, the harder it is to make any out of the ordinary commitments.
What this has meant in practical terms is that retired and more financially secure people are reliable primary voters. In the City of San Diego, many important contests are settled in June, not November.
In 2012, 220,679 San Diego City voters participated in the June primary; 448,138 voted in the November election. And the disparities for independent, minority and young voters are eye-opening.
Measures K & L ensure that decisions are made when the most people participate. They also align San Diego’s voting processes with those used by the State of California.
From San Diego City Beat:
“It’s a fact that more people vote in November general elections than do in June primaries,” said former state Assemblymember Jeff Marston, co-chair of the locally based Independent Voter Project. “And we firmly believe that elections should be held when the most people are participating.”
Voter turnout records show that roughly twice as many San Diegans vote in the general election than vote in the primary. And, people of color are three times more likely to vote in November elections, while younger people are five times more likely to vote in November, according to Political Data Inc.
Support for the measures has fallen almost entirely on partisan and ideological lines: Democrats and unions support them, while Republicans and conservative business groups oppose them.
The weakness of the arguments against these measures was made painfully obvious at a debate staged at this year’s Politifest.
Former state Sen. Steve Peace, along with labor leader Mickey Kasparian argued for K&L, with Republican consultant Ryan Clumpner and City Councilman Chris Cate opposed in a contentious hour moderated by Voice of San Diego reporter Andrew Keatts.
If you watch the above video and know about local politics, you’ll be shocked to see Mickey Kasparian as the quiet one in the room.
The bottom line for the opposition was that these measures needed to be studied more, coupled with uncertainty about the costs involved. Their ballot argument says millions of dollars would be spent for new elections.
According to the City’s Independent Budget Analyst, Measure K would only cost a few cents more per voter than the current system. There would be no additional cost for Measure L.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the reason the Lincoln Club and the San Diego Chamber of Commerce are funding the opposition to K & L is they see lower voter turnout as beneficial to their interests, though nobody will actually say that.
The City Council voted along party lines to put K & L on the ballot. The Republicans at City Hall purportedly had a trick up their sleeve they hoped would shift the balance.
San Diego City Councilwoman Marti Emerald on Thursday accused Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s office of trying to organize a vote swap that would have saved her firehouse bond measure from defeat.
Last week, the measure appeared likely to pass, but it failed Tuesday after Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, a Republican, withdrew her support. The measure would have issued $205 million in bonds, backed up with an increase in property taxes, to build 18 fire stations across San Diego. Because California law requires a two-thirds majority for special tax increases, the proposed November bond measure failed in a partisan 5-4 split.
Emerald, a Democrat, said the mayor’s chief of staff, Stephen Puetz, had promised her six votes for the firehouse bond if she sided with Republicans in blocking a separate measure to change San Diego’s election rules. That measure, promoted by the Independent Voters Project, would require a November runoff in all city elections regardless of how many votes a candidate gets in June. Currently, candidates win outright in June if they get more than 50 percent of the vote.
A spokesperson for the Mayor’s office said Emerald’s claims were untrue.
In my perfect imaginary world, voting would be mandatory. Measures K & L will at least give people a better opportunity to make their voices heard.
The editorial board of the San Diego Free Press recommends voting Yes on Measures K and L.
For more information on this and other ballot issues, see our San Diego 2016 Progressive Voter Guide.
Other San Diego Free Press coverage of the 2016 general election.
For More Information
Ballot Language: CHARTER AMENDMENT REQUIRING RUN-OFF ELECTION FOR THE OFFICES OF MAYOR, CITY ATTORNEY AND COUNCILMEMBER.
Shall the Charter be amended to eliminate the provision that elects a candidate for Mayor, City Attorney, or Councilmember to office if the candidate receives a majority vote in the June primary election, and instead require a run-off election at the November general election between the two candidates who received the most votes in the primary election?
I could find no internet/social media for those opposing K & L
Ballot Language: CHARTER AMENDMENT REQUIRING CITIZENS’ INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM MEASURES TO BE PLACED ON NOVEMBER GENERAL ELECTION BALLOTS, UNLESS THE COUNCIL DECIDES TO SUBMIT THEM TO VOTERS EARLIER.
Shall the Charter be amended to require qualified citizens’ initiative and referendum measures to be submitted to voters on the next November general election ballot and not at a June primary election, unless the Council chooses to submit the measure to voters prior to that election?
Key Dates for the November 8, 2016 General Election –> pic.twitter.com/uEQEgPKHRk
— CA SOS Vote (@CASOSvote) September 12, 2016
On This Day: 1781 – British General Charles Lord Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington at Yorktown, Virginia. It was to be the last major battle of the American Revolutionary War. 1969 – Vice President Spiro Agnew referred to anti-Vietnam War protesters “an effete corps of impudent snobs.” 1983 – The Senate approved a bill establishing a national holiday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.
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