A California state Senator who was elected earlier this year during a special election in which she was the only candidate on the ballot has sponsored a bill that would allow the governor to cancel such uncontested races. Sen. Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster, announced the effort Thursday, saying it would help prevent counties from racking up high bills to put on special elections that may be unnecessary. “Expenses add up fast for counties across California when special elections are called,” Runner said in a statement. “Elections are a vital part of our democratic process, but it is not always necessary to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on an election when only one name appears on the ballot.” Runner’s legislation, Senate Bill 49, would give the governor the discretion to cancel a special election when only one candidate qualifies to appear on the ballot.
A situation such as that arose last March when Runner was the only name to appear on the ballot in a special election to fill a vacancy in the 21st Senate District, which covers the majority of the Santa Clarita Valley and much of the Antelope and Victor valleys.
Despite that, current state law still required a special election be held.
The election to fill the seat vacated by Rep. Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, who was elected to Congress in November, cost an estimated $1.4 million in Los Angeles County, and another $221,000 in San Bernardino County, according to elections officials and information from Runner’s office.