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San Diego City Council Votes Against Proposal To Shorten Ballot Pamphlets

A woman casts her vote at a polling place at University Avenue Baptist Church in San Diego, June 7, 2016.
Katie Schoolov
A woman casts her vote at a polling place at University Avenue Baptist Church in San Diego, June 7, 2016.

San Diego City Council To Consider Proposal To Shorten Ballot Pamphlets
San Diego City Council To Consider Proposal To Shorten Ballot Pamphlets GUEST: Todd Gloria, councilman, San Diego

The central city Council is called a special meeting this afternoon to figure out what to do about this November big ballot. Council members are concerned about the traditional method of sending out sample ballots to every registered voter. There concerned that I can help us a cost of this year's general election more than $1 million over budget. Warning me is Todd Gloria. Welcome to the program. Thank you, Maureen. How large may we be talking about this year? I want to clarify something. Busiest sample ballot will not be like what we seen in the past. We might have to send two out. That is why they are maybe waving the full text of the initiatives. Perhaps eliminated at second mailing to all of us are concerned what to be confusing. We counted a dozen local initiatives, is that the right? .12 local, two County, and 17 statewide. You understand why the sample ballot that would normally -- it will be significantly longer. What the city Council is considering doing what the county is doing instead of printing the full text of the lilac killed referendum that we would follow them and waved the full text. But continue to give the voters a summary and the financial analysis and the pro and con statements and provide a link to read the full text online or to mail it to any voter who would request that. It is 2016. I think plenty of people have access to the Internet in this would you way of saving almost $1 million. How much -- if you were forced to predict -- produce those two ballots and contain all the information, how much would that cost the city quick It is not clear yet because all of these moving parts makes it difficult for the voters to give the city of from estimate, but it could be as much as $5.5 million just for the city's portion. We have set aside for point when million dollars for the selection for the remaining three Council as well as a ballot propositions. Because of the size which is one hundred 19 pages long -- when 19 pages long. That jacks up the costs substantially. Tell us a little bit about what exactly is the Council is considering doing to kind of shrink this down so that we all fit in one sample ballot and your telling someone to go somewhere else for the information? My correct. We are considering to waive the need to publish the full text of the two Stadium related initiative and placing the information online so that what you get in the mail is likely to be one-pound Flint. -- One pamphlet. In providing the whole title and summary and statements and then a link to the full text, which will be available online in providing if anyone who would like a hardcopy to be mailed to them free of charge and we make that available. Whether we are seeing anywhere between $800,000 or million dollars that is money that we could spend in our neighborhoods. That amount of money is more than we spend on disability improvements for entire year. Is more than we spent a summer jobs for youth this year. It is a tremendous amount of money. I also read that the city Council might consider sending one ballot to a registered voters household so that it could be used by multiple voters, is that still up for consideration? Mac that is not on the docket today. It is something that has been discussed. This effort is really exceeding what we have budgeted. You think about our police dispatcher crisis are homelessness crisis, our homes that need repair. We have turned back a couple of initiatives that will be on the ballot but we chosen to leave that for another day. We have been able to share the cost of the Senegal high school lease proposition that will be on the ballot so that will reduce costs. This is another way to reduce costs. There may be more but today these are the only things in for a Council. The city attorney has issued a memorandum saying that this is completely legal. It is up to was.'s preference is for us to print the full text but these are decisions that are left to policymakers. That is why folks elect us and send us to City Hall and render a decision. In my case I think that this is the right thing to do not only to reduce voter fatigue, I recognize people will get a tennis stuff in their mailbox . This is 108 to reduce that also to bring this process into a 21st-century. I get most of my voter information online. The city Council docket is published online. This is legal and probably a very efficient way that has a side benefit of reducing cost to taxpayers. They'd what if they don't like this idea? But they certainly have the opportunity to come down this afternoon and make that as a public, but -- comment. We do have this before us today and I think that the argument for following the recommendation, which is to waive the full text printing is worthy of the councils consideration. They may be able to persuade the Council to go ahead and spend the additional million dollars but it won't be with my support. Just lastly and briefly Todd Gloria, you said that there is some initiatives that have been postponed. Where are they being postponed to? Our charter review committee -- the ones that do not perceive this time they could be placed on the ballot. Most likely the next release schedule election will be not have as many initiatives. Gotta. I've been speaking with Todd Gloria. Thank you so much for your time.

San Diego City Council Votes Against Proposal To Shorten Ballot Pamphlets
The proposal aimed to decrease the size of the voter pamphlets and the cost of printing the ballots. Last week, San Diego City Clerk Elizabeth Maland said the projected cost of the general election could reach $5.5 million, well over the budgeted $4.17 million.
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San Diego voters will see not just one but two ballot pamphlets in their mailboxes, each more than 100 pages long.

The San Diego City Council voted against a proposal to post the text of two citizens initiatives online instead of in a ballot pamphlet that will be mailed to voters before the November election.

The proposal aimed to decrease the size of the voter pamphlets and the cost of printing the ballots.

One of the initiatives would fund construction of a Chargers stadium and convention center annex. Its full text is 119 pages long. The other would prohibit a waterfront expansion of the current convention center and encourage educational and park uses of the Qualcomm Stadium site if the local National Football League franchise vacates the premises. Its full text is 77 pages long.

Both need voter approval because they would raise hotel room taxes.

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The text of the initiatives will be sent in a supplemental voter pamphlet separate from the ballot pamphlet that details each race and ballot proposition. The November ballot will include 12 city propositions, two county propositions and 17 state propositions.

Printing the supplemental pamphlets could cost between $800,000 and $1 million, said City Clerk Elizabeth Maland.

The vote to skip printing the full ballot language for the two initiatives failed on a 4 to 2 vote. Council members Todd Gloria and Sherri Lighter voted yes, while council members Lorie Zapf, David Alvarez, Marti Emerald and Scott Sherman voted no. Council members Chris Cate, Myrtle Cole and Mark Kersey were absent.

Emerald said she feared not printing the full language would hurt democracy.

"I'd like to think everyone will read it, we know they probably won't, but for those who care about the outcome of these important issues, there’s nothing like being armed with information," she said.

Gloria said the election could cost the city up to $5.5 million, but the city has only budgeted $4.2 million. He said the money to print the supplemental pamphlet could me better spent.

"That's more than we spend on (Americans With Disabilities Act) repairs in a year, almost four times what we spend on summer jobs for youth, it's the value of a fire engine, it could house by my estimate about 150 additional people in the serial inebriate program for the homeless," Gloria said. "This is a real money. It's 2016, I think it's perfectly reasonable to put this online."

Maland said the city of Encinitas will have a supplemental pamphlet printed for a ballot measure, while the county of San Diego and San Diego Association of Governments will place the text of two propositions online, which is allowed by the state elections code.

If the text of San Diego's initiatives were placed online, voters could have requested printed copies, Maland said.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said that while placing the initiatives online is legal, the city has never done so before. The city is obligated to fully inform voters and operate in a fair and impartial manner, he said.

"These two initiatives are very complicated. I've heard many in the community who want to look under the hood, to look at the specifics," Goldsmith said. "I think that is very, very important."

He said the Chargers proposals not only outlines the tax increase but how it will be spent on construction. The Citizens Plan for San Diego, from lawyer Cory Briggs, has several different elements, including the tax increase, the fate of the stadium land in Mission Valley, a new downtown zoning area and new local environmental law, he said.