School district and statewide elections to be consolidated

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EL CENTRO — Several school districts in the Imperial Valley will now have their elections held on even years, starting in 2018, to consolidate with statewide elections.

Debra Porter, Imperial County Registrar of Voters, presented the requests of eight districts to the Imperial County Board of Supervisors during Tuesday’s general meeting. The districts resolved to change the education districts election day from the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of odd numbered years to the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of even numbered years.

The change for election dates to coincide with statewide elections is being implemented, according to Porter, “with the hope that the voter turnout would increase.”

In a unanimous vote, the Board approved the resolution submitted by the various districts, which included the El Centro Elementary, Brawley Elementary, Calipatria Unified, Holtville Unified, Heber Elementary, Brawley Union High, and Imperial Unified School Districts. The City of El Centro was also included.

The McCabe Union Elementary, Meadows Union Elementary, San Pasqual Unified, and Westmorland Union Elementary have not submitted a resolution to change their election years, according to Porter, though they may do so later this year.

California Elections Code 1302(b) allows for election years to be changed by an ordinance for a city and a resolution for a school district. The code also states, “If the date of an election is changed pursuant to this section, at least one election shall be held before the resolution….may be subsequently repealed or amended.”

School districts would eventually need to sync their elections with a statewide election date, in accordance to the SB 415 California Voter Participation Rights Act, which requires that a political subdivision or district shall not hold an election other than on a statewide election date if the turnout for the regular election is at least 25 percent less than the average voter turnout within that political division for the last 4 statewide general elections. As a result, districts would need to have a plan in place by 2018 to have their election dates changed by 2022 to even years if the average turnout was 25% less than its turnout during statewide elections.

“It could be a money-saving matter,” emphasized Porter, suggesting the districts’ financial expenditures would be reduced, as election costs would then be shared with the state and county.

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