SAN DIEGO — The San Diego City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to amend the municipal code on recall elections to bring it into alignment with current state law.
A state provision that a vote on a replacement candidate would not be counted unless the voter also answered whether an officeholder should be recalled was struck down as unconstitutional by a federal judge 10 years ago. San Diego’s section on recalls includes similar language and was never updated.
City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said San Diego’s code section on recalls was unconstitutional as an effort got underway to remove Mayor Bob Filner from office. Some observers said Filner could have used that fact as a loophole to get a recall against him overturned had he tried to remain in office.
The city’s recall code “is a mess,” Councilman Mark Kersey said.
“It’s contradictory, it’s confusing and — at least in a couple of cases — it’s unconstitutional,” he said. “We need to make sure the rules are clear, fair and current.”
Also unconstitutional, according to Kersey, is a requirement that signature gatherers be registered voters. He also said one part of the code requires recall backers to submit petitions within 60 days and another part says the deadline is 99 days.
He asked the council’s Rules Committee to take up those other two issues as soon as possible. Committee Chairwoman Sherri Lightner said it would be a priority, but probably not until next year because of increasing demands on the time of the City Attorney’s Office.