Proposition E - Election Date of the Assessor-Recorder and Public Defender

Voter Guide

This Charter amendment would move the election date for the Assessor-Recorder and Public Defender from the Statewide Primary Election
 in June to the following Municipal Election in November. The change would take effect the next time these offices are up for election, moving the election from June 2006 to November 2006.

Proposition E was placed on the ballot by 
a vote of the Board of Supervisors. Like any amendment to the City Charter, it requires a majority vote of the people to pass. Proposed Charter amendments can be submitted to the voters either by a majority of the members of the Board of Supervisors, or by citizen petition.

The Assessor-Recorder assesses property values and maintains property records for the purposes of property taxation. The Public Defender provides Constitutionally mandated legal representation
to those accused of crimes in San Francisco.

SPUR’s Analysis

In past years, most City offices required both an initial election and a runoff election. The initial vote for the Assessor/Recorder and Public Defender was held in June, with the runoff election held the following November. In 2002, voters approved instant runoff (or ranked-choice) voting for City offices, including the Assessor/Recorder and Public Defender. Under the new system, there is no need for a separate runoff election.

All elected City officials take office at noon
 on January 8 of the year following their election. Under the old system, the election would be decided in the November runoff, and the new official would take office about two months later. With instant runoff voting, however, the results of the election would be known in June, almost six months prior
 to the end of the term of the person currently in office. Such a long span of time between election and transition is extremely unusual. Proposition 
E is primarily a minor “housekeeping” measure designed to rationalize the timing of these 
elections under the instant runoff voting system.

Supporters Claim...

Those who support Proposition E state:

  • Under the current system, an official can spend half a year in office even though a new person has been elected. This situation does not benefit anyone involved. Outgoing officials are less likely to be effective for the remainder of their term, newly elected officials must wait half a year to begin serving, and the public must wait to see its decision take effect
  • This minor change will have little impact on election outcomes, but is a common-sense clean-up measure now that instant runoff voting is in place

Opponents Claim...

Those who oppose Proposition E state:

  • As long as we are changing the timing of the election, we should move it to a different election, such as a presidential or gubernatorial election, when voter turnout is historically higher

SPUR’s Recommendation

SPUR recommends a “Yes” vote on Proposition 
E. We see little reason not to make this sensible change. It simply corrects a fluke of timing that resulted from the approval of instant runoff voting and the unusual schedule for electing these offices.