Ballot language similar to 1992’s question

A ballot question aimed at changing how Carson City supervisor candidates are nominated in primary elections will be modeled in part on a similar 1992 attempt, which failed due to a rare result.

Voters split down the middle in 1992, with 8,504 favoring the proposed change and 8,504 opposing it, according to Alan Glover, the current clerk-recorder charged with helping shepherd new ballot language for another try next year.

“This will be the fourth time we’ve placed this or something similar on the ballot,” Glover said Friday.

“The last time,” he said, referring to the 1992 issue, “it was a dead tie. It has to win. If it’s tied, it loses. Nobody asked for a recount.” He said the two earlier attempts were in the 1970s and 1980s.

The ballot question is advisory to the Nevada Legislature, which has oversight and would be asked to change the capital’s consolidated city charter based on such wishes if the ballot proposal garnered sufficient voters’ support.

Supervisor John McKenna said during Thursday’s Board of Supervisors meeting that he wanted language added seeking legislative acquiescence to wishes of city voters. The discussion noted a concern that legislators might favor ward voting on supervisors in both the primary and general elections.

Currently, city voters narrow candidates and choose the mayor and supervisors via at-large, citywide voting in both the primary and general elections, though each supervisor must reside in the ward he or she winds up representing. The city has four wards but there are staggered terms, so two are chosen to serve four years at general elections in even-numbered years.

Here is the pertinent Question 9 ballot language that was used in 1992:

“Should the Carson City Charter be amended by the Nevada Legislature to provide that in a primary election the candidates for supervisor who received the highest number of votes from the voters in that candidate’s ward be placed on the ballot for the general election; and in a general election the candidate for supervisor from each ward receiving the highest number of votes from all the voters at large is elected; and the candidates for mayor are voted upon by the voters at large in any election?”

An accompanying 1992 explanation clarified that an elector’s vote in favor would support the change to ward selection of two nominees but citywide voting to determine each ward’s winner, while a vote against would retain the system of citywide voting in both primaries and general elections.

Glover said that, along with city staff and the district attorney’s office, he likely would start from those 1992 examples. He was unsure what language would be crafted to take care of McKenna’s request.

The draft ballot language and any fiscal impact will return to the city’s governing board for action to place it on the general election ballot in the next year. The effort emanates from a recommendation by the city’s Charter Review Committee to the board last summer.


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