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Smart Voter
Los Angeles County, CA May 17, 2005 Election
Measure CharterAmendment-B
Vote Counting Procedures for Recall Elections
City of Los Angeles

Charter Amendment - Majority Approval Required

224,986 / 51.9% Yes votes ...... 208,872 / 48.1% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Information shown below: Summary | Impartial Analysis | Arguments | Full Text

Shall the Charter be amended to eliminate the provision that requires a voter to cast a vote on the question of recalling the incumbent in order to have his or her vote counted for a replacement candidate?

Summary Prepared by League of Women Voters of Los Angeles:
The City charter provides for the recall of elected officials before their term has been completed. A recall ballot presents two questions: should the incumbent be recalled, and which candidate should replace him. The charter now provides that a voter must cast a vote for or against the recall, or the vote on a replacement cannot be counted.

The state election code had a similar provision, which was successfully challenged in court. A federal court held that a vote for a replacement candidate must be counted, even if the ballot did not contain a vote for or against the recall. It is considered likely that a challenge to the charter provision would also be successful.

Changes contained in Charter Amendment B. The proposed amendment would change the charter to eliminate the link between the two questions on a recall election ballot. A voter would have his choice for a replacement candidate counted, even if he remained silent on the issue of recalling the incumbent.

Support and Opposition. The main argument in favor of this change is that it would make city law conform to state law in an area that has been tested in court. At present, there does not appear to be formal opposition to the change.

Impartial Analysis from Interim Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry F. Miller
This proposed change in the Charter was placed on the ballot by the Los Angeles City Council.

The Charter of the City of Los Angeles provides that in recall elections, the ballot must include two questions. The first question asks if the elected official should be recalled. The second question lists the names of persons nominated to replace the incumbent if voters approve the recall question. A voter must cast a vote for the recall question if their vote for a replacement candidate is to be counted. If the voter does not vote on the question of the recall, their vote for a replacement candidate is void. The specific language is found in Section 435 of the Charter.

The language in the Charter is the same as language which was in the State Election Code. However, the State law changed after the 2003 recall election for the Governor. A lawsuit challenged the provision in State law that a vote counted only if the voter cast a ballot on both the question of recall and on a replacement candidate. The court agreed with the challenge. A Federal district court overturned the State law and required that votes for replacement candidates in a recall be counted even if the voter did not vote for recall of the incumbent.

The City's Charter provisions regarding vote tallies in a recall election could also be challenged in court based on the same arguments used against the State. This could result in delaying the outcome of a recall election for an unknown period of time. To prevent delays in a vote tally in a recall election because of this Charter requirement, the City Council is asking voters to amend the Charter. The proposed amendment simply removes language in Section 435 of the Charter that is similar to language in the State Election Code that was overturned by the court. This will allow voters to remain silent on the question of recall, but still vote for a replacement candidate and have their vote count.

  News and Analysis

Google News Search

KPCC FM (National Public Radio)
  • Talk of the City - scroll to Wednesday, May 4
    Kitty Felde Interviews Raphe Sonenshein, Professor of Political Science at CSU Fullerton, on Charter Amendments A & B
Suggest a link related to Measure CharterAmendment-B
Links to sources outside of Smart Voter are provided for information only and do not imply endorsement.

Arguments For Measure CharterAmendment-B

Both the Los Angeles City Charter and the California State Elections Code contain Recall Election provisions that require a voter to first vote on whether the incumbent should be removed in order to have their vote for a replacement candidate counted.

In the recent California Governor Recall Election, a Federal District Court ruled that this requirement is unconstitutional. The Court opined that a voter has the right to choose their elected representative even if they do not vote on the recall of the incumbent.

Voters have the fundamental right to vote for the candidate they want to represent them. In a Recall Election, a voter may not be sure if they want to recall the incumbent-but they must always maintain the right to vote for a replacement candidate if the Recall is successful.

Charter Amendment 8 will ensure that the Recall Election provisions of the Los Angeles City Charter comply with the United States Constitution by removing the requirement that a voter must first vote on whether the incumbent should be removed in order to have their vote for a replacement candidate counted.

VOTE YES - to make the City Charter Recall Election provisions constitutional.

VOTE YES - to ensure that all votes in Recall Elections are counted.

VOTE YES - to protect voter rights.



President, Los Angeles City Council

Los Angeles City Attorney

Los Angeles City Clerk

Vice Chair, Rules & Elections Committee

President, League of Women Voters Los Angeles

President, Urban League of Los Angeles

President & General Counsel, MALDEF

Executive Director, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials


Arguments printed on this page are the opinions of the authors and are not checked for accuracy by any City agency.

(No arguments against Measure CharterAmendment-B were submitted)

Full Text of Measure CharterAmendment-B
New provisions or language added to the Charter or to existing Charter sections are shown in underline type; words deleted from the Charter or from existing Charter sections are shown in strikeout type.


Section 435 of the Charter of the City of Los Angeles is hereby amended to read:

Sec. 435. Recall Ballot.

In addition to the question of whether the incumbent shall be removed from office, each recall ballot shall also list the names of all persons who have been nominated as candidates to succeed the person whose removal is sought. No vote cast for any candidate shall be counted unless the voter also voted on the question of recall of the incumbent. The name of the incumbent shall not appear on the ballot as a candidate for the office. If a majority of the registered voters voting on the matter vote in favor of the recall, then the incumbent shall be removed from office effective on the date the successor qualifies.

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Created: June 9, 2005 12:59 PDT
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