Board of Supervisors to ask for date change for special election

Arguing that a special election date for the Central Coast’s state Senate seat dictated by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will depress turnout, overwork employees in the county Clerk-Recorder’s Office and needlessly cost county taxpayers half a million dollars, the Board of Supervisors is poised to ask the governor today to change the date.

The letter to Schwarzenegger asking for the change, placed on today’s agenda by board Chairman Frank Mecham, says the supervisors are “appalled” that Schwarzenegger set two special elections instead of one to fill the 15th District state Senate seat vacated by Abel Maldonado last week when he became lieutenant governor.

Schwarzenegger set the special general election for Aug. 17. Under the state Election Code, a special primary election also must be held, eight weeks before the special general election. That creates another election just for the state Senate, on June 22 — two weeks after the regular statewide June 8 primary.

If one candidate gets 50 percent plus one vote in the special primary, a follow-up vote would not have to be held.

In its letter to the governor, the board is seeking the Nov. 2 date for the election. Supervisors say the current dates will cost San Luis Obispo County $1 million and the five counties touched by the 15th District a total of $6 million. The other counties containing a portion of the district are Santa Cruz, Monterey, Santa Clara and Santa Barbara.

Supervisors also noted in their letter that they have not yet been reimbursed the $376,000 for the special election the governor called in May 2009.

Asked last week about changing the date, Schwarzenegger’s spokesman said the governor nominated Maldonado for lieutenant governor in November and the Legislature delayed his appointment, so lawmakers are to blame to for any extra expense. The governor also has said delaying the election until November will leave the Senate seat vacant for too long.

Julie Rodewald, San Luis Obispo County clerk-recorder, said Schwarz-enegger still could have chosen to have the special election in November.