April 5, 2023
Supervisor Nora Vargas, Chair of the Board
Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer, Vice-Chair
Supervisor Joel Anderson
Supervisor Jim Desmond
County Administration Center
1600 Pacific Highway, Room 335
San Diego, CA 92101
RE: Call to Hold a Special Election to fill District 4 Vacancy
Dear San Diego County Board of Supervisors:
On behalf of Alliance San Diego, we respectfully request that the Board of Supervisors call a special election to determine the next Supervisor for District 4. Additionally, we ask that you allocate county resources to ensure voters are aware of the election so they have an opportunity to participate and that you also provide accessible voting options.
Alliance San Diego is a human rights organization working to build a more inclusive democracy where everyone is able to exercise their human dignity, including by voting. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government.” It further states that “this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections.” To that end, we ask that you call a special election to allow the voters to express their will to decide who will represent them.
While the County Charter allows you to appoint someone, to do so in this instance would undermine the fundamental human right of district residents to choose their representative in an election. We are only four months into a 4-year term. Given there are 44 months remaining, it is vital to our democracy that District 4 voters be allowed the opportunity to decide their next representative. A Board appointment would undermine that right.
When there are vacancies in Congress or the California Legislature, appointments are only allowed during the last year of the term. Otherwise, vacancies are filled by a special election to allow voters to have a voice in who will represent them. Calling a special election for District 4 would align with the process the State uses to fill congressional and legislative vacancies, and it would uphold human rights here at home.
Our democracy is strongest when the most people participate. Unfortunately, off-cycle elections risk a low voter turnout — for example, the 2021 special election for the overlapping Assembly District 79 only yielded a 21 percent turnout. This is due in part to the underfunding of voter education by the county. For that reason, we strongly encourage the county’s investment in nonpartisan voter education to ensure all voters in the district are aware of the election and are provided the information they need to vote. To maximize voter participation, it is crucial that the Board also provide an in-person voting option, in-language voting options, and options to accommodate voters with disabilities.
In a healthy functioning democracy, the peoples’ right to exercise their will in elections is paramount. Providing voters with the opportunity to exercise that right is a part of good governance. With efforts to suppress the vote occurring across the country, it is vital that as elected representatives you demonstrate a commitment to the basic tenet of democracy — the right to vote.
We call on you to lead by example and uphold this fundamental human right for the voters of District 4. We respectfully request that you schedule a special election to fill the vacancy, and let the voters decide who will represent them for the remaining 4 years.
Dr. Isidro Ortiz,