Modesto considers changing timing for mayoral election to keep voter turnout high

·2 min read

Modesto officials will talk Monday about potential changes to the city’s charter — which serves as a constitution for the city — including when the mayor is elected and increasing the job protection for the city auditor.

The City Council will discuss these and other potential changes with its Charter Review Committee at a workshop that starts at 9 a.m. at Modesto Centre Plaza, 1000 L St. in downtown. For those attending by Zoom, the meeting ID is 869 4597 0570 and the passcode is 84326.

Any changes to the charter require approval by the city’s voters. The City Council at some point would have to vote at one of its regular meetings to bring potential changes to the charter to the voters.

The potential changes officials will discuss Monday include moving the election for mayor from the November election to the June primary and holding any runoff election for mayor at the November election. The reason for the change is to ensure voter turnout remains high for the runoff.

For instance, turnout for the November 2020 mayoral election was 77.1%, but it was 29.4% for the February runoff election, according to the Stanislaus County election office. Modesto holds a runoff election if a mayoral candidate does not receive at last 50% plus 1 of the votes.

Modesto typically holds a runoff election for mayor, and the turnout is low.

Officials also will talk about broadening the qualifications for city auditor to ensure a larger field of candidates. They also will discuss requiring a vote of five of the seven council members to fire an auditor, instead of the current requirement of four votes.

This is in response to the controversy and short tenure of the city’s last auditor, who left in 2018 after less than a year on the job. The position remains open.

Modesto undertakes a comprehensive review of its charter about every decade. The last review was more than a decade ago.

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