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..C. E. GRUNSKY
CLARENCE M. SMITH
JOAN P. YOUNG
T. D. BOARDMAN
.E. A. WALCOTT
MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS Defects observed in the operation of the election laws of the state and cities led to the organization of a committee early in 1916 to investigate the facts and to make recommendations. The following members accepted appointment on the committee:
H. D. Hawks (chairman), H. N. Beatty, C. M. Belshaw, C. H. Bentley, A. E. Boynton, E. A. Breckenfeld, Marcel E. Cerf, C. P. Cutten, William Denman, C. M. Elliot, W. D. Fennimore, F. H. Gould, A. E. Graupner, Arthur Joel, Wm. Carey Jones, W. H. Jordan, Paul Herriott, F. V. Keesling, E. F. Moran, H. M. Owens, R. A. Roos, L. I. Sussman, M. T. U'Ren, Victor J. West, C. C. Young, J. H. Zemansky.
The committee, after a few meetings, concentrated its attention on municipal elections, considering especially the following points: The workings of the system of double elections introduced in California cities in 1909; the complaints of candidates of the great burden placed upon them by demands for contributions from various sources; the difficulties met in securing a complete registration of the electors; and the demand that electors have the option of choosing residence for voting purposes, either at their place of repose or at their place of employment.
The latter was postponed for further consideration. The same course was taken with plans for dealing with the state election system, as any considerable changes would call for amendment to the constitution.
The self-governing cities of California, beginning with Berkeley in 1909, had generally adopted a system of primary and general elections devised for the purpose of preventing election of officers by a minority. Under this system the candidates at the general election have been reduced to two for each office, unless a majority has been had at the primary. This has been generally effective in securing the result desired. It has brought in its train, however, complaints of increased length of campaign, increased expense, and of an indisposition among the voters to turn out at a second election. The committee, after much labor, offered its reports at the Club meeting of July 12, 1916.
The committee reported strongly in favor of a consolidation of the primary and general election into one under a system which would give the voter the opportunity to express his first choice, second choice and third choice for candidates on the same ballot. It reported also in favor of a law to forbid solicitation of contributions from candidates or payments of contributions; also in favor of registration of electors at their places of residence.
Synopsis of Reports of Committee Since 1908 the cities of California have generally adopted the plan of securing majority elections through the system of primary and general elections. Unless some candidate receives an absolute majority at the primary election, the race is confined to the two standing highest in the primary for each position to be filled.
The system has accomplished the purpose sought, to prevent the election of a minority candidate through the division of the majority between two or more candidates. It has, however, brought in its train very considerable burdens to the candidates and to the taxpayers. It has doubled the length of the campaign, increased the cost of the campaign to candidates, has placed on the public treasury the cost of two elections, and has burdened the voters so that large numbers omit to vote at one or the other election.
Consolidation of Elections
The committee has therefore devised a system which consolidates the primary and general elections into one. Instead of permitting the voter to express a first choice at a primary election, and a second choice at the general election, in case his candidate is eliminated at the primary election, the committee recommends a ballot which will permit the voter to express his first, second and third choice at the same election. The system preserves the principle of majority elections, and eliminates the expense of the double election and the long campaign. Method of Nomination
The committee recommends the nomination system used in the San Francisco charter, except that it calls for more data with regard to the candidate than is demanded under the existing law. The candidate is required to give with his declaration of candidacy his name, address, occupation, previous occupation, name and address of employer, membership in civic organizations, date and place of birth, years of continued residence in San Francisco, whether married or single, and what public office, if any, held.
The San Francisco requirement of not less than ten nor more than twenty sponsors who shall certify to the mental, moral and physical qualifications of the candidate is accepted in lieu of the longer petitions required by most charters. It has been found that the system of sponsors does not bring out a larger number of candidates than the petition system, and saves a great deal of labor and expense.
The committee recommends the system of official pamphlets in use in San Francisco under the present system, but made compulsory on all candidates. Each candidate is required to pay to the Registrar $20.00 on filing his declaration of candidacy and will have printed in the official pamphlet all the data contained in his declaration of candidacy. He may file any additional statement he desires, one hundred words without extra charge, and further statement not exceeding three hundred words in all at an additional fee of $10.00 for each additional hundred words.
Form of Ballot
The committee recommends that the ballot be arranged by offices in the order of importance, and that the names of candidates be arranged alphabetically under each office without partisan designation. It recommends the rotation of names, to give all candidates equal advantage of position at the head of the ballot. The plan calls for three voting squares to the right of each name, in which the voter may indicate his first, second or third choice. A fac-simile of the ballot containing names of all candidates filing for the election in San Francisco in 1915, arranged for use under the system recommended, will be found in the Appendix (page 220). This ballot is a fac-simile reduced about one-half in its dimensions. Canvass of Returns
The plan recommended by the committee calls for a reduction in the number of election officers to four in each precinct. These are to receive the ballots, seal the ballot box on the closing of the polls, and transmit the sealed ballots immediately to the Registrar of Voters. The opening of the ballot boxes and the counting of the ballots is to be done by the Registrar in a public place in the presence of bystanders.
Candidates receiving a majority of the first choice votes for any office shall be elected.
If no one receives a majority of first choice votes, the second choice votes are added. If no candidate then receives a majority, the third choice votes are added and the one receiving the highest vote shall be elected.
The system is also recommended for conducting a recall election, in order that a majority candidate may be elected at a single election instead of conducting two elections. Objections to System
It may encourage "plumping" or omission to vote for full number of candidates where a group is to be elected. (Mr. Kohlberg, page 198; Mr. Mauzy, page 200.)
It may operate against the principle of majority rule. It may give advantage to the voter who refuses to vote any other than first choice, and lead back to the old evils of election by a minority' owing to a division of votes among the majority. (Mr. Sussman, page 203; Mr. Denman, page 214.)