Letter: Time for Election Change

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Letter to the Editor

Even as the local newspapers provide extensive coverage of the upcoming April 8 election, based upon past elections, it is likely that voter participation will be abysmal. Look at our last municipal election held in April, 2012. There was a 30.89% turnout at a cost of a little over $20 per vote. Compare that with voter participation in the November 2012 election, where 77.74 % of registered voters participated at a cost borne mostly by Los Angeles County.

Does the City of Malibu really have an extra $55,936.50 to throw away on a low-turnout election? Is it right that one-third of registered voters determine the composition of our council? 

Among the challenges to the consolidation of elections is voter fatigue with longer ballots. But looking at the official results of the November 2012 elections, it appears that voters in Malibu took the time to vote for SMMUSD board members even though those selections fell at the end of the ballot. I, for one, have confidence that Malibuites are capable of voting for a president and a councilmember in the same election. Does anyone really think otherwise?

Rather than bemoan the lack of participation, it’s time for each of the candidates in the current election to go on the record in favor of electoral reform and not just the generic idea but to a concrete plan of action to insure that the next April election is the last April election in Malibu. The first step would be to ask the Los Angeles County Supervisors to do what Santa Monica already does, hold its municipal elections on even-year November elections.

In the event that that option is not currently available, our council should take additional, immediate steps to facilitate voting by interim measures until our local elections can be consolidated with presidential elections. Alternatives that should be investigated include the use of all mail-in ballots or changing the date to November odd-year elections. 

Based upon costs and participation factors, April elections do not make sense. If our council does not lead the way, it’s time that the voters unify to modify our municipal code to effect electoral change by the initiative process.

Cynthia Kesselman