Foon Rhee

A cheaper special election in Sacramento?

Kevin McCarty gave up his District 6 seat on the Sacramento City Council after winning election to the state Assembly, forcing a special election April 7 to replace him.
Kevin McCarty gave up his District 6 seat on the Sacramento City Council after winning election to the state Assembly, forcing a special election April 7 to replace him. hamezcua@sacbee.com

Sacramento taxpayers are staring at a $200,000 bill to hold a special election April 7 to fill the City Council vacancy in District 6.

But City Hall may have found a way to lighten the load. On Tuesday, council members are to discuss whether to hold that election entirely through mail balloting – or whether to hold a regular election with polling places.

City Clerk Shirely Concolino estimates that an entirely vote-by-mail election could shave 25 percent off the cost, maybe more. She also says that voter turnout would likely be much higher.

This would be a first for Sacramento for a council election (there have been a few mail elections for tax measures affecting several hundred voters). But since more and more voters are casting their ballots by mail anyway, it’s a good test.

About 55 percent of registered voters citywide and 56 percent of District 6 voters have signed up as permanent vote-by-mail. The city still plans to have at least three drop-off sites for mail ballots and one polling place on April 7 for disabled voters and last-minute drop-off ballots.

This solution would also get former Councilman Kevin McCarty off the hook. It’s his seat that needs to be filled since he won a spot in the state Assembly.

Right after the election, I suggested that it would be classy and politically savvy for him to help pay for the special election. He wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about the idea.

I expect he’d more excited about any idea to reduce the cost of replacing him.

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