- Ashley Labar
SACRAMENTO, CA – Assemblymember Gail Pellerin (D-Santa Cruz) introduces AB 1784 with Co-Authors Assemblymember Berman, Assemblymember Bennet, Assemblywoman Dixon, Assemblymember Friedman, Assemblymember Kalra, Assemblymember Low, Assemblymember Quirk-Silva, Assemblymember Schiavo, Assemblymember Weber and Assemblymember Zbur to clarify that a candidate can only run for one office on the same ballot.
Since 1913, California law has prohibited a person from filing nomination papers to run for more than one office at a primary election. Despite this prohibition, last week, a Sacramento Superior Court judge ordered the Secretary of State to allow a candidate to run simultaneously for seats in both the State Assembly and the United States House of Representatives at this year’s primary election. The judge’s ruling concluded that the prohibition on filing nomination papers for more than one office at a primary election applies only to the process for independent nomination of candidates.
This conclusion, however, is contrary to how California Secretaries of State from both major political parties and nonpartisan local county elections officials have interpreted the law for decades. In her decision, the judge even acknowledged that it “defies common sense to find the law permits a candidate to run for two offices during the same election.”
California’s longstanding prohibition on running for multiple offices at an election serves important public policy goals. When a candidate is elected to multiple offices, but can only serve in one, the result is a vacant elective position. That vacancy often necessitates a special election that is costly, and likely to result in low and unrepresentative turnout, leaving voters without representation until a new official can be seated. Allowing candidates to run for multiple offices also unfairly places voters in the position of being asked to vote for a candidate without knowing if that candidate will accept the office if elected. As the judge noted in her decision last week, allowing a candidate to run for multiple offices in an election “may result in voter confusion and the disenfranchisement of voters” if the candidate is elected to more than one office.
“As the chief elections official in Santa Cruz County for 27.5 years, and as Chair of the Assembly Election Committee, I plan to work with Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber, Ph.D and the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials to ensure that this long standing prohibition on running for multiple offices is continued,” Assemblymember Gail Pellerin said.
Assemblymember Pellerin represents the 28th Assembly District, which includes Santa Cruz County and Santa Clara County. In Santa Cruz County, the District includes the North Coast communities of Davenport, Bonny Doon and Swanton, the cities of Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz, the San Lorenzo Valley, and portions of Soquel, Aptos, and Corralitos. In Santa Clara County, the District includes the Town of Los Gatos, cities of Monte Sereno and Morgan Hill, the communities of Lexington Hills, Willow Glen, Cambrian Village, Santa Teresa, the Almaden and Coyote valleys, and portions of Campbell, Gilroy, San Martin, Saratoga, South San Jose.