2016 Goes To GOP — K And L Could Shore Up Future Elections For Democrats
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Measures K and L have passed in San Diego. Measure K requires mandatory runoffs in November, while Measure L requires citizen's initiatives and referenda to be voted on in November.
UPDATE: 7:30 a.m., Nov. 9, 2016:
Mandatory November runoffs will be the new normal in the city of San Diego now that Measure K has passed. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, 58.3 percent voted for Measure K, while 41.6 percent voted against the measure.
Measure L, which would require citizen's initiatives and referenda to be voted on in November, has also passed. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, 65.5 percent voted for Measure L and 34.5 percent voted against the measure.
UPDATE: 12:40 a.m., Nov. 8, 2016:
With 54 percent of the precincts reporting, Measure K has 57.82 percent of the yes vote and 42.18 percent of the no vote. If passed, Measure K would require November runoffs for the top two vote getters in June races for city council, mayor and city attorney.
Meanwhile, Measure L has 66.38 percent of the yes vote and 33.62 percent of the no vote. If passed, Measure L would require citizens' initiatives and referenda to be voted on in November, unless the City Council takes special action.
Measures K and L on San Diego's ballot would represent a significant change to the city's election rules. Both measures would shift power from the June city elections, which take place alongside the state primary elections, to the November general elections.
Measure K, the more controversial of the two, would require November runoffs for the top two vote getters in June races for city council, mayor and city attorney. Currently, candidates skip the November election if they win more than 50 percent of the vote. Measure L would require citizens' initiatives and referenda to be voted on in November, unless the City Council takes special action.
Who's on each side?
Progressive organizations and politicians have been united in their support for both measures, saying the city's biggest decisions should be made in November, when voter turnout is invariably higher than in June. The higher turnout tends to benefit Democrats.
In the weeks leading up to election day, the organized "yes" campaign took a massive fundraising lead, raking in nearly a million dollars from a few dozen sources. Most of the big donations came from unions, but the largest single contribution — $200,000 — came from the Open Society Policy Center, a progressive advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.
Opponents to Measure K say the process of placing it on the ballot has been rushed, and that the city should have undertaken a more extensive outreach campaign to gauge what kind of reform, if any, voters desired.
The opposition campaign to Measure K was funded entirely by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and the conservative Lincoln Club. The two organizations put up $200,000, according to campaign finance disclosures. A few thousand were spent on polling this summer, but the vast majority of the money went unspent, suggesting opponents saw Measure K's passage as inevitable.
Brian Pepin, president of the Lincoln Club, declined an interview on the funded campaign, but said in an email: "With the large number of measures (31 in the City of San Diego) on the 2016 ballot, a large amount of voters remain undecided on down-ballot measures."
A similar string of events played out for San Diego's minimum wage increase. Polling showed support for the wage hike was strong, and the opposition campaign — also led by business groups — petered out.
Measure K may not be the end of changes to San Diego's election rules. The Independent Voters Project, which petitioned the City Council to place the measure on the ballot, has supported "ranked choice" voting in other parts of the country and has indicated it may do the same in San Diego. This kind of system, already in place in some Bay Area cities and on the ballot in Maine, would eliminate the need for June city elections by allowing voters to rank multiple candidates by preference in one single election.
To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.