Proposition supporters say ballot bleed-through could affect votes

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SAN DIEGO -- Ink used on some absentee ballots in San Diego could bleed through the paper and record a “no'' vote on a controversial proposition, supporters of Measure K announced Wednesday.

They said that on some ballots, the bubble that voters would fill in to record a “yes" vote on Measure E lines up on the opposite side of the paper with the “no'' bubble for Measure K.

Supporters of Measure K said at a news conference that the problem could result in inadvertent “no'' votes, or for choices to not be recorded, on their proposition. They said not to fill in the ballot with felt-tip pens.

Measure K would, if passed, require automatic November runoff elections for city of San Diego offices between the top vote-getters in the primary election.

Right now, if a candidate tops 50 percent in the primary, that person is elected and a runoff is not required. Supporters contend that it would be better to make final decisions on mayor, city attorney and City Council in the general election, when many more people cast ballots.

Opponents say it would be unfair for candidates who win by overwhelming margins in the primary election to run again a few months later, and that the measure would raise election costs.

Measure E, by contrast, is a non-controversial proposition that would amend the City Charter -- the city's primary governing document -- to set up provisions for removing wayward officials. The proposal grew out of then-Mayor Bob Filner's scandals three years ago.

“Today, we are asking that the Registrar of Voters communicate with voters in the city of San Diego alerting them to this problem, and recommending the use of appropriate pens on the ballot,'' City Council President Sherri Lightner said. “Both Measure E and Measure K are extremely important measures that voters in the city of San Diego have the opportunity to vote on this November.''

Lightner said the registrar, Michael Vu, has promised to manually check the affected ballots for any bleed-through issues during vote counting. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Lori Shellenberger, voting rights director of the American Civil Liberties Union in San Diego, said voters should make sure to check their mail- in ballots before returning them.

If the ballot is spoiled, they can get a new ballot by contacting the registrar's office or at their polling place, she said.

Ballots differ around the city, depending on whether a given area has a City Council election or votes in special districts. Voting materials are also printed in different languages.