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Independent Voter Project Successful in Effort to Expand San Diego Voter Participation

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Created: 11 November, 2016
Updated: 21 November, 2022
3 min read

San Diego, Calif. -- The Independent Voter Project (IVP), in partnership with Alliance San Diego, has succeeded in helping to pass Measure K, expanding the decision making process for voters in the City of San Diego. With a supportive coalition of community, labor, and voting rights organizations, Measure K was approved by an overwhelming 58.6% of voters.

Currently, in elections for mayor, city attorney and city council, a candidate is declared elected if they receive over 50% of the vote in the June primary. Under Measure K, all city elections will require a November general election run-off between the top two primary vote-getters.

According to IVP Co-Chair Jeff Marston, “Democracy is best served when the most people participate, and that is clearly in November. In fact, while the general election turnout is at least twice as high for the general population, for people of color and young voters, ages 18-24, it ranges from three to five times as high in November as June.”

Additionally, Measure K brings San Diego in line with how California elects its constitutional officers, legislators, and members of Congress. Proponents of Measure K highlighted this fact as it serves to streamline the voting process and removes the confusion many face not realizing a race may indeed have ended in June. Now, all races will be decided in November--when the most people vote, not the fewest.

Opponents of Measure K focused largely on questioning the legitimacy of the process that placed the measure on the ballot, questioning why other manners of voting were not explored, and making what were unfounded claims about the measure taking millions of dollars away from streets and public safety.

According to Marston, there was also one “complaint” that has become a source of pride and will serve as an incentive to carry the effort further.

Opponents complained that no other city currently elects its officials in this manner.

“This concern now becomes a great opportunity for San Diego to emerge as a leader in the effort for greater voter participation. As more cities look at what we’ve done and how it increases participation in our democratic process, interest in joining our ranks is sure to follow,” Marston said.

“San Diego’s Measure K is an improvement on a system that can still get better. We look forward to working with anyone who wants to participate in the next steps of an improved process,” said IVP attorney Chad Peace.

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IVP authored California’s top-two nonpartisan primary, passed by California’s voters in 2010. In that year, the majority of the opposition came from the left. Measure K is the second significant election reform authored by the San Diego-based organization. Opposition to Measure K, this year, came from the right.

IVP is committed to promoting election reforms that advance the purpose of making elections serve all voters, not just political parties.

“When more voters matter, our representative democracy gets better. Often, IVP reforms are viewed as ‘anti-party.’ We believe the contrary is true. All parties will get stronger as they are forced to listen to more voters,” said Peace.

Photo Credit: Gino Santa Maria / Shutterstock.com

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