Assemblymember Gloria’s Bill to Transition County Elections to November Run-Offs Sent to Governor
State Senate Approves AB 901, Elections for County of San Diego Offices Stand to Change with Governor’s Signature
SACRAMENTO, CA – Legislation authored by California State Assemblymembers Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) and Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) that would change the elections process for County of San Diego officials and ensure more voters are heard in county-level elections was approved by the California State Senate today by a vote of 23-14. With this approval, the bill will now be sent to the Governor.
“Our message with AB 901 is simple: more voters equal better decisions. This bill allows the county charter in San Diego to be changed so that the voices of more voters can be heard in the selection of their county leaders,” said Assemblymember Todd Gloria. “While other parts of the nation add additional barriers to voting, we are increasing voter engagement and empowering them in the public process in San Diego County. It is a worthwhile goal and I am hopeful that Governor Brown will feel the same and sign this bill.”
“Having offices like County Supervisor, Sheriff, and District Attorney chosen in June suppresses voter participation. These are vital elected offices responsible for public safety and the health and welfare of millions of people throughout the region,” said Assemblymember Shirley Weber. “Voters should have sufficient time to be engaged in choosing the candidates who best represent them. AB 901 will make sure that happens.”
AB 901 will permit the charter of the County of San Diego to be amended by ballot proposition -- submitted by either the County Board of Supervisors or a voter initiative – to require candidates for countywide offices be elected in November, when the vast majority of voters participate. Candidates who receive the highest and second highest number of votes during the Primary Election would move on to the General. In the event there are only two (or fewer) candidates for a particular office, those names would only appear on the General Election ballot.
“Democracy works best when more people participate in the electoral process,” said state Senator Toni Atkins, who managed AB 901 on the floor of the Senate. “Having county officials chosen in the General Election will create a more representative government. I thank Assemblymembers Weber and Gloria for their leadership on this important issue.”
Under current law, candidates for county elected offices in the County of San Diego (Board of Supervisors, District Attorney, Sheriff, Treasurer/Tax Collector, Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk, and Board of Education) can be deemed elected if they receive more than 50 percent of the vote in the June Primary – meaning, there is no contest in November. This practice allows candidates to win elections with votes from only a small fraction of the people they would represent.
AB 901 is the first of two bills related to County of San Diego elections to receive the approval of both houses and be sent to the Governor. AB 801, also co-authored by Assemblymembers Gloria and Weber, would require the County of San Diego’s Redistricting Commission be comprised of community members as opposed to retired judges thereby reflecting the diversity of the county’s population. AB 801 is currently being reviewed by the Senate Appropriations Committee.
AB 901 is supported by SEIU California, California Professional Firefighters, the Environmental Health Coalition, the Independent Voter Project, the Center on Policy Initiatives, United Domestic Workers of America – AFSCME Local 3930, among others.
AB 901 was passed by the State Assembly in May. The Governor has 12 days to sign or veto the bill.