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Some San Diego residents vote for the same seat twice in June

Assembly District 80 is up for grabs this June 7, but not just once, but twice. The two-for-one special election runoff and standard primary election features redrawn district lines and four candidates looking to represent San Diego’s South Bay.

After Lorena Gonzalez stepped down from the seat in January, a battle to represent it got under way. First there was a special election primary on April 5. No candidate got the majority vote, so now there’s a runoff on June 7. That’s the same day as a separate general election for the same seat.

Yes, it’s confusing.

“There will be approximately 250,000 voters in the county that will have two assembly district contests on their ballot,” San Diego County Registrar of Voters Cynthia Paes said.

Paes told KPBS how the two separate elections will work.

“One will be the general election for the 80 Assembly District for the remainder of the current term. The second state assembly contest will be for the new term, beginning December 5 of 2022,” she said.

So voters will vote twice, once for a candidate for June through December, and then again for a candidate to go on to the November general election. The November winner will represent the district for the next two years. For the June through December term, Democrats Georgette Gómez and David Alvarez are the only two candidates competing head-to-head.

Meanwhile the standard election primary will include the two Democrats as well as a pair of Republicans, Lincoln Pickard and John Vogel Garcia.

To further complicate matters, people who lived in the 2011 district boundaries can vote for the special election candidates, but the standard election primary is only for those who live in the updated 2021 district boundaries.

Some folks may not be able to vote for both.

“On the ballot for the 80th Assembly District, we have in parenthesis ‘special runoff to fill vacancy,’ which is separate from their regular primary election for the new term for whatever assembly district they reside in now,” Paes said.

Get general information about the election, news coverage, an interactive ballot guide, and results on election day.

Phil Saenz, a political science professor at Southwestern College, said whoever wins the special election will be able to run as an incumbent in the November general election. He said that would give an advantage to either Alvarez or Gómez.

“They both have terrific name recognition, they have the political machinery in place, I would say that those are other factors to be considered,” Saenz said. “But yes, I think there is an advantage, especially if they are able to use that time wisely and generate enough positive publicity during that time period.”

Saenz said even though the two Democrats are the most likely to be on the November ballot, it's the Republican and independent voters who may make a difference.

“There were 9,000 votes in the previous election that went to the one Republican that was running, so who’s going to get those 9,000 votes? Who's going to get the other Republican votes when they vote again in November?” Saenz said. “It may come down to Republican voters deciding the election as much as it does for Democrats in that district.”

Now, ballots are on the way to voters.

“So the week of May 9 you should expect to receive your official ballot in the mail. On that same day, we will have nearly 132 drop-off locations open throughout the county,” Paes said.

She said that the county will also have 219 voting centers open starting on Saturday, May 28.

Results in both contests will be certified 30 days after the June 7 elections.

Explore a comprehensive ballot guide, polling and ballot drop-off locators, live results on election night as well as reporting on candidates and issues.