Guest editorial: The civic importance of measures K and L

Posted: October 7th, 2016 | Opinion, Opinion & News | No Comments

By Charles G. Abdelnour

For 28 years I was privileged to serve as the clerk and chief elections officer for the city of San Diego.

During that time, I oversaw a number of important election events. These included the city’s switch from district-only primaries, which were then followed by a city-wide general election, to district-only elections — both in the primary and if necessary, a general election runoff.

My staff and I helped bring San Diego into the digital age, advancing my commitment to transparency by putting city documents online for public access.

And, I’m proud to be called the “father of the all-mail ballot,” helping to draft and champion the precursor to today’s absentee ballot and the model for what is now commonly used in other jurisdictions.

So, as I look at the November general election ballot, what strikes me as the most important opportunity for city of San Diego voters, are measures K and L. They represent a very simple — yet very significant — change in the way we make some of our most important decisions.

Measure K reforms the process for candidate races, ensuring that our city’s leaders are elected in November, when the most people vote — the same system we use to elect state and federal officials.

Currently in the city of San Diego, these officials can be elected in June, when as few as 20 percent of voters participate, and some candidates have been elected with support from as few as 11 percent of their constituents. The current system gives disproportionate influence to political partisans and special interests with their money and endorsements.

Measure L reforms the process for deciding city ballot measures, and as we do for state ballot initiatives, requires that they be placed on the November ballot when the most voters are participating.

I think we can all agree that democracy is best served when the most people participate, and clearly that happens in November.

In fact, statistics show that turnout among the general population doubles for the November general election.

For voters, the choice is clear.

Measures K and L bring the city in line with how California voters decide on state and federal elected officials and ballot measures. Measures K and L will eliminate confusion and empower the majority of voters.

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.

Charles G. Abdelnour is a former San Diego city clerk and chief elections officer.

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