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Glendale residents vote to change municipal elections to coincide with state

Glendale residents will have the opportunity to vote Tuesday on whether to consolidate local elections with California primaries.

The City Council placed Measure P on the ballot in February because of low voter turnout and rising election costs. If passed, the measure would amend Glendale’s charter so that it complies with the California Voter Participation Rights Act.

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The act prohibits local governments from holding a municipal election on a date other than on 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.”

Glendale voter turnout has fluctuated between 20% and 25% in the last several elections.

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Measure P also includes changing the 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.

City elections are currently the first Tuesday in April of odd-numbered years. Changing the dates to March 2020 and 2022, respectively, would extend the terms of council members Vartan Gharpetian, Paula Devine, Vrej Agajanian, Zareh Sinanyan and Ara Najarian by 11 months.

Los Angeles County estimates that moving the election would 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 cost of elections is partly due to the fact that other cities have been complying with the California Voter Participation Rights Act, said City Clerk Ardy Kassakhian. 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 council considered moving its elections to match the date of the November general elections, but ultimately decided against it because some council members believed that national or statewide issues could overshadow local issues. Doing so also would have extended council members’ terms 18 months instead of 11.

Though the city is required to hold an election to amend the charter, Glendale must comply with state law anyway.

“Regardless of the outcome, it is very likely we will have to comply with state law, and the date is going to change moving forward,” Kassakhian said. “The purpose [of the election] is to clean up language of the city’s charter.”

Eligible voters can cast a ballot on Measure P between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Tuesday at their designated polling place, which can be found at www.lavote.net/locator. Those who received mail-in ballots can mark and drop them off at the Downtown Central Library or the Glendale Police Department.

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