San Diego, CALIF. - Respecting the will of voters logged a big win in San Diego this week, and the Independent Voter Project is proud that its sponsorship of Measure L played an integral role in the discussion.
In a 5-4 vote, the San Diego City Council made a powerful statement in denying the request by Mayor Kevin Faulconer to put two measures before voters for a costly special election this November, when far fewer voters will be participating.
The City Council members who voted against the special election focused largely on the fact that the will of the 66% of voters who expressed support for Measure L -- which allows the City Council to schedule a special election only for special circumstances -- mattered more than the special interests who wanted a low turnout election where it would be easier to skew turnout, and public discussion is not as focused on policy matters.
In the meeting, council members used Measure L to bolster their argument that democracy functions best when the most people participate, which statistics show is clearly in the November general election.
Those stats come from the Registrar of Voters, which show that roughly half as many people vote in June primaries as November elections and even less vote in special elections. But the numbers really drop for minorities, who vote at triple the rate in November, and young voters, who vote five times as much in the fall.
Council member Barbara Bry noted, “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.”
The Independent Voter Project assisted Alliance San Diego in writing the companion initiative to Measure L, Measure K, and worked with the city council and community leaders to ensure their mutual passage. Measure L garnered 66% of the vote in last November’s general election. It says citizen's initiatives and referenda should be voted on in general elections when the most voters participate.
The yes vote on Measures K and L put local San Diego elections into alignment 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.
Andrea Guerrero of Alliance San Diego, co-authors of Measure L, hailed the decision saying, "This is about accountability, the integrity of our decision-making, and strengthening our democracy."
“As a means to control the outcome, political insiders like low turnout elections. Measures K and L ensure that democracy is represented when the most voters are participating," said Chad Peace, attorney for the Independent Voter Project and author of Measure K.
He continued, "At a time when people generally deride the direction of politics, we should pay attention to these great moments and thank those civic leaders who chose to put democracy above special interests.”