Opponents of two Los Angeles ballot measures calling for city and school district elections to be held in the same years as gubernatorial and presidential races were joined by several City Council candidates at City Hall Monday to make a final push against the measures. While billed as a way to improve voter turnout, Charter Amendment 1 and Charter Amendment 2 would only benefit deep-pocketed special interests like billboard companies and developers, who are major supporters of the measures, according to Hans Johnson of the group Save Our City Elections. The measures would “tip the playing field dramatically in favor of” special interests that “want a stronger hand in picking winners and losers in our nonpartisan races,” Johnson said, with voter engagement actually decreasing because candidates and local issues for city elections would be buried at the bottom of lengthy ballots and mostly ignored.
Charter Amendment 1 and Charter Amendment 2 on Tuesday’s ballot call for holding city and school board elections in even-numbered years, instead of odd-numbered years, putting races for the Los Angeles Unified School District board, City Council, mayor, city attorney and controller on the same ballot as races for the governor and president.
Backers of the election year switch say voter turnout has proven to be stubbornly low in the odd-year city elections — with less than 21 percent of registered voters going to the polls in the 2013 primaries.