The County Voice

Another Voice: Election Reimbursement Bills Deserve Your Support

As you no doubt know, the governor chose not to consolidate the SD 15 vacancy election with the November statewide, for reasons either political (keeping a Republican in the seat) or personal (a stick in the eye to legislative Democrats that delayed confirming Maldonado for Lt. Governor). This failure is causing big headaches in the five affected counties, mostly because of the millions more it will cost and the logistical nightmare of running separate primary elections only two weeks apart.

The dust-up highlights two bills pending in the Legislature: SB 994 by Senator Price and AB 1769 by Assembly Member Tran. They would put in statute that the state will pay the costs of elections to fill vacancies in Congress or the state Legislature, Asm. Tran’s bill for 2009 and 2010 and Sen. Price’s bill for 2011 and all subsequent years. This was the law for many years, but the language lapsed at the end of 2008.

Vacancy elections are unexpected by nature, and the costs hit county general funds hard. As LA County Registrar Dean Logan recently told the Senate Elections Committee, that county alone just in 2009 conducted five different elections to fill three vacancies costing more than $5 million. Smaller counties aren’t affected by vacancies as often as LA, but when they do the proportional hit to their budgets is much greater. Having the state continue to pay these costs, as they have done for many years, would relieve counties of this burden.

These bills won’t provide immediate help to the five counties in Senate District 15, but they will give all counties a greater measure of certainty that help will be coming. Both CSAC and CACEO, the association of election officials, support SB 994 and AB 1769, and your county should too. We would urge you to send a letter to your legislators and the authors of these bills supporting them. Thank you.

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