San Diegans will likely wait until early February to pick their mayor.

An initial election has been set for Nov. 19 but at least 20 candidates have filed paperwork to run for mayor. It’s unclear whether all those contenders will make the ballot but as more join the race, the chances of an outright win by any one candidate decrease.

If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, the city must hold a runoff election between the top two vote-getters, and that’s unlikely to occur until Feb. 11 due to election processes and laws.

There are plenty of variables that could shift that date, including yet-to-be-finalized plans for the county Registrar of Voters to move to a new office in the midst of the election process.

The runoff clock would start ticking after the Nov. 19 special election.  After the initial race, the county Registrar of Voters has up to 28 days to certify election results. That would bring us to Dec. 17, a week before Christmas.

After the registrar finishes certifying the vote, the City Council must approve the results and schedule a second election.

The date it chooses will likely need to reflect state and federal laws that require municipalities to mail ballots to members of the military serving overseas at least 45 days before an election.

Given that requirement, city voters appear poised to head to the polls on Feb. 11.

But City Clerk Liz Maland and county Registrar of Voters Michael Vu were hesitant to confirm that date.

“There are just so many unknowns at this point,” Maland said. “We don’t even know if there’s going to be a runoff.”

Indeed, there’s a laundry list of potential variables.

The City Council could decide on a different date.

The Registrar of Voters, which has agreed to conduct the election, may need more or less time to certify votes or prepare runoff ballots.

Staffers may also be in the midst of moving to the revamped County Operations Center during the election process, though Vu said his office may consider postponing the move if it might negatively impact election work.

“All the different pieces need to come together before there’s any conversation about a move,” Vu said.

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Lisa is a senior investigative reporter who digs into some of San Diego's biggest challenges including homelessness, city real estate debacles, the region's...

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