On behalf of The Silicon Valley Organization (The SVO), we are writing in opposition to a proposal to move the timing of mayoral elections away from the gubernatorial election cycle. By way of background, The SVO is the Silicon Valley’s premier business advocacy organization representing nearly 1,200 companies that employ over 300,000 workers, and we represent our membership as the region’s largest Chamber of Commerce.
Voter engagement is absolutely fundamental to the strength and success of our democracy. While it is true that voter participation is consistently higher during presidential election years, we observed that the data does not prove that increased voter turnout would be a direct result of moving the timing of mayoral elections. Furthermore, it is not a guarantee that voters will vote down-ballot on mayoral races, especially when national politics will likely dominate news coverage and dialogue. Instead of political maneuvers to change the timing of mayoral elections which would have no measurable impact on voter turnout, the Council should focus on educating citizens about the critical importance of voting in every election – not that certain election cycles are more important than others. Every election matters.
We can focus on driving up voter turnout by partnering with the County of Santa Clara and the State of California. For example, ACA 8 (Low) would reduce the minimum voting age to 17 and allow younger voters to participate in our democracy. AB 59 (Kalra) would require that local election officials designate and give preference to implementing voting centers on university and college campuses, which would make it easier for young voters to participate in local elections. Furthermore, we can explore opportunities to partner with the county to implement a civic education campaign about the importance of voting. These legislative proposals and partnership opportunities would actually move the needle on increasing voter turnout.
In closing, we strongly urge the Council to vote against any proposal to shift the timing of mayoral elections and focus on real solutions that will actually increase voter turnout in every election.