The L.A. County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a proposal to publish candidate statements online in addition to inside printed sample ballots, a move that will dramatically reduce candidates’ cost of getting their statements in front of voters.
Right now, many candidates do not buy space in sample ballots because they say it's cost prohibitive.
The cost is more than $200,000 to get each countywide candidate’s 200-word statement in the sample ballot, according to Registrar Dean Logan. The fee is based on printing and mailing costs to send the guide to 5.6 million registered voters, he said.
Under the plan, the Registrar of Voters would publish candidates' statements online for a fee of about $280, starting with the March 2024 primary election.
“It is a no-brainer,” Logan told LAist. The move comes as voters increasingly obtain their information about candidates online.
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Voting rights advocate hailed the move.
“I think it's really important,” to have candidates statements side by side online, said Kim Alexander of the California Voter Foundation. Many times, she said, the only information people have about local races are the statements.
“When you get into countywide offices like assessor or sheriff, it's hard for voters to make informed decisions,” Alexander said.
She added that there's another reason to make it easier for candidates to post their statements on the registrar’s website.
“Those candidate statements are an excellent accountability tool for voters,” she said. “You want to have a record of what candidates promised they’d do if elected.”
Typically, fewer than 20% of the total number of candidates pay to get their statements into the sample ballot, according to Logan.
In 2016, a new law allowed local election officials to accept and publish electronic statements from candidates for local, nonpartisan offices. Last year, L.A. County ran a pilot program for countywide offices “to increase voter accessibility and create a more equitable playing field for candidates,” Logan said in a report to the board. (Full Story)