A bill that better aligns San Diego County elections with local, state, and federal elections passed the California State Assembly Monday. Assembly Bill 901, authored by Assemblymembers Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) and Todd Gloria (D-San Diego), and supported by the Independent Voter Project, was approved on the floor, 51-24.
AB 901 would allow San Diego County, through proposition by county supervisors or a petition of 10% of the electorate, to move to a primary system in which the voters are guaranteed a choice between the top two candidates in the general election.
“Increasing voter turnout and engagement in our elections is a goal we should all strive for, and AB 901 will help us do that by ensuring decisions are made when voter participation is at its highest,” Assemblymember Gloria stated in a press release. “It is well-documented that voter turnout is significantly higher during the general election compared to the primary. Because elections are the foundation of our democracy, it is only appropriate that ballot questions are answered when more voters participate.”
“San Diego is one of the most geographically, ethnically, and politically diverse counties in California, and it is important that our electoral process maximizes the participation of all San Diegans. AB 901 would allow the San Diego electorate the ability to amend the county charter to allow San Diego county to require November elections for county supervisor races even when a candidate gets over 50% in the June primary election,” writes IVP co-founder Steve Peace.
The Independent Voter Project authored a similar ballot measure last year in the City of San Diego, Measure K. The measure eliminated the rule that allowed candidates to win city elections outright in June by getting over 50% of the vote, ensuring that all citywide elections would be decided in the fall when the most voters participate. It was approved by a majority of voters in November.
“As a matter of principal, elections should be decided when the most people vote … the general election. Systems that do not do this are, by design, rigged to benefit insiders and diminish accountability to the broad electorate. AB 901, like Measures K and L, overwhelming approved by City Voters last fall, is an important voter rights issue,” Peace notes.
AB 901 now advances to the State Senate.