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Measures K&L: San Diego Election Reform

by Jeff Marston, published

The most important ballot fight this November for City of San Diego voters is over Measures K&L.

Yes on Measures K and L will align San Diego with the State of California’s election rules, using the same nonpartisan top-two runoff process to elect our mayor, city attorney and council members as we use to elect the Governor, state legislators, and members of Congress.

It will also ensure that citizen initiatives and referendums are voted on only in the November general election, when the most voters participate.

Currently, unlike state and federal offices, a local 50%+1 election loophole allows special interests to elect their candidates when fewer voters are involved in the decision-making process. In San Diego's last 36 elections, 19 were decided in the June primary, when turnout is often half of what it is in the November General Election.

Voters rationally assume the races are actually being decided in the general election. Measure K eliminates the confusion of our local election loophole.

For the same reason, Measure L amends the Charter to require all local ballot measures to appear on the November ballot instead of the June primary ballot.

I support Measures K&L for the same reason I helped pass the top-two nonpartisan primary at the state level just a few years ago: government functions best when representatives are accountable to the most voters.

Charles G. Abdelnour, the former San Diego city clerk and chief elections officer said about K and L in a recent Op-ed, “I am passionate about democracy and our voting process. I’ve fought for voters’ rights issues since 1977. Measures K and L are the most important opportunities to come before city of San Diego voters in decades. Please join me in voting ‘yes’ on K and L.” I’m one of the many who strongly agree with the respected former City Clerk.

Measures K&L help simplify and streamline our local elections.

Today, it is confusing to voters when they find out that our primary is actually different than every other state and federal election and that you probably won’t be able to vote for your councilperson, city attorney, or mayor in the general election because of a 50%+1 rule that few people know about.

I believe in ideas. And the best ideas come from well-reasoned thought. Debate. Introspection. And public discourse.

We should all vote yes on Measures K&L because there is no question that ideas, thoughts, debates, and public discourse will improve if we allow these important decisions to be made by voters in November, when the most people participate--not the fewest.

I agree with City Councilman Todd Gloria, who has been an outspoken proponent of K&L when he says, “Measures K&L are good for San Diego. It’s important that our most important civic decisions are made when the most San Diegans are engaged at the ballot box, and that is clearly in the November General Election, not the June primary.”

These election cleanup measures are supported by a broad coalition including the San Diego Firefighters, the Democratic Party of San Diego County, the San Diego Taxpayers Advocate, and City Council President Sherri Lightner.

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