The Morning Report
San Diego news and info
you need to take on the day.
Every primary election, local voters get to peruse long lists of obscure candidates and ponder which ones should serve in offices that aren’t actually part of the government. As many as three out of four voters simply don’t bother to decide who will serve on the county central committees of political parties.
Now, the county’s top election official wants to save money by saving everyone the trouble: She wants to purge these races from the ballot.
“The main issue is that these are not public offices, and they’re being subsidized at taxpayer expense. It’s an unwarranted taxpayer subsidy when so many things are being cut,” said Deborah Seiler, the registrar of voters, who’s working with election officials statewide to push for new legislation to dump the central committee races from the ballot.
She put it more bluntly in an interview with The Sacramento Bee: “It’s as if we were running the Kiwanis Club election.”
Each of the political parties has a county central committee, which does things like endorse local candidates and approves budgets. But only the Democrats and Republicans typically need to hold elections to fill the seats because there are more hopefuls than openings, Seiler said. Each party elects six people to represent each of the eight Assembly districts in the county for a total of 48; the parties may add more people to their central committees, like current elected officials.
In the June 2010 primary election, candidates for central committees made up 160, or two-thirds, of all the 240 candidates on the entire ballot. The numbers were similar in 2008.
Register employees must verify the signatures gathered by the candidates, Seiler said, making the workload a “huge proposition.”
Election housekeeping may get even more complicated in 2012. That’s when election officials may need to print extra ballots because they’ll need the space due to changes in the traditional party-by-party primary election system, Seiler said.
In 2008, the cost to manage the elections for local central committees was $400,000, she said. It fell to $100,000 last year due to changes in the way elections are funded by local government agencies, she said.
Election officials haven’t yet convinced any state legislators to work with them on changing election regulations, The Sacramento Bee reports. Locally, neither of the leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties said they opposed the push to purge.
“We understand it’s a burden. I can see the numbers,” said Tony Krvaric, the county’s GOP chairman. “We’d be open to coming up with another way. As Republicans, we want as many Republicans to vote.”
Jess Durfee, chairman of the county Democrats, said he didn’t want to stake out a position without hearing what the state party has to say. However, he said it wouldn’t be an “insurmountable” problem to figure out how another way to choose committee members.