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Glendale voters may move municipal elections to match state primaries

Glendale’s city elections may be moved from the first Tuesday in April of odd-numbered years to coincide with state primaries in March 2020 and 2022, according to initial results from an election Tuesday.

With all precincts reporting, 12,584, or about 82%, of voters supported Measure P, which would amend the city’s charter to comply with the California Voter Participation Rights Act. The act prohibits local governments from holding municipal elections on a date other than a statewide election day if the voter turnout for the previous four local elections is “at least 25% less than the average voter turnout for the previous four statewide elections.”

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Roughly 2,800 people voted against the measure.

Measure P would also change the language of the city’s charter to exclude references to the Glendale Unified School District, which would clarify that district elections, such as those for school board, don’t have to coincide with municipal elections.

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Council members Vartan Gharpetian, Paula Devine, Vrej Agajanian, Zareh Sinanyan and Ara Najarian will serve another 11 months due to the election-date change.

The City Council first proposed to put Measure P on the ballot in November 2017 because of the rising costs of holding elections in April with consistently low voter turnout. Glendale voter turnout has fluctuated between 20% and 25% in the past several elections.

Los Angeles County estimates that moving the election will reduce Glendale’s costs to about $250,000. If Glendale were to continue holding elections in April, the cost would be $1.3 million to $2.3 million, according to a city staff report.

The rising costs of elections is partly due to the fact that other cities have been complying with the California Voter Participation Rights Act, City Clerk Ardy Kassakhian has said in the past.

Cities share the fixed cost of a county-run election, so with fewer cities holding elections in odd-numbered years, the cost for each increases.

The L.A. County Registrar said Tuesday that 118,522 voters were left off the roster at polling places accidentally.

At a City Council meeting on Tuesday night, Mayor Zareh Sinanyan reassured Glendale voters they could still submit provisional ballots. However, he added that the mistake made him worry about future Glendale elections.

“This does worry me … giving up our rights of conducting our own elections to the county,” Sinanyan said about an hour and a half before polls closed. “This doesn’t give me any confidence toward the way they conduct the elections, but let’s see what happens.”

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