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Appellate Court Rules California Voting Act Does Not Apply to Charter Cities Like Pasadena

Pasadena changed elections dates to comply with law

Published on Wednesday, April 8, 2020 | 2:13 pm

An appellate court upheld a lower courts ruling in late March that stated the California Voter Participation Rights Act (CVPRA) does not apply to charter cities like Pasadena.

Pasadena moved its election dates to comply with state elections after state Attorney General Xavier Becerra told city officials the city had to comply with the CVPRA even though Pasadena is a charter city.

Charter cities, like Pasadena, are granted greater authority when running their city, according to the state constitution, including the right to schedule their own elections for local offices.

Voters overwhelmingly approved Measures AA and BB, which changed the calendar for City Council and school board elections, respectively, in 2018.

AA passed with 82.29 percent of the vote, changing the City Council election calendar to match statewide elections.

The March 3 elections run by the county were disastrous.

People stayed in line for hours, voting machines failed and it took the county nearly three weeks to count the elections.

Although many cities changed their election dates, Redondo Beach which is also a charter city stood its ground.

In Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff’s order to Secretary of State Alex Padilla not to interfere with Redondo Beach holding its elections in odd-numbered years, but sidestepped the question of whether a 2015 statute requiring local elections in even-numbered years is unconstitutional as applied to chartered cities.

Beckloff, in granting a writ of mandate and declaratory relief, as sought by the South Bay municipality, held on Oct. 25, 2018, that the CVPRA impermissibly intrudes upon the province of chartered cities in dictating when they may hold their elections.

The appellate opinion, by Presiding Justice Dennis Perluss, neither agrees nor disagrees with the trial court judge’s conclusion.

Rather, the opinion states, that the Legislature didn’t make it clear whether it intended the CVPR—which went into effect Jan. 1, 2018—to apply to chartered cities or not so, to avoid a constitutional controversy, it will be assumed there was no such intention.

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