Carson City District Attorney Jason Woodbury: Clearing up confusion about how Carson City Board of Supervisors are elected
Carson City District Attorney
I would like to correct some misinformation that is circulating about Carson City elections.
Background: A panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that a certain “hybrid” method of electing members to a governing body is unconstitutional (link to decision below). The “hybrid” system at issue in the case established ward only voting in the primary election of members of the Tucson City Council and city-wide voting in the general election. As you will remember, this is the exact system presented in question CC-1 which was included on the 2014 ballot in Carson City (link to question below). That ballot question was defeated. To my knowledge, there is no ongoing effort to modify Carson City’s election structure to allow ward-only voting in either the primary or general election. As such, in Carson City, the Mayor and all Supervisors are elected on an at-large basis in both primary and general elections. Carson City Charter 2.010(4). The only eligibility requirement related to ward boundaries is that a Supervisor is required to be a “qualified elector” and “resident of the ward which he or she represents.” Carson City Charter 2.010(3).
Misinformation: After the Ninth Circuit ruling was issued, the Reno Gazette-Journal printed an article indicating that Carson City had adopted the “hybrid” system which the ruling invalidated. As explained above, this is incorrect. That error has since been corrected by the Reno Gazette-Journal. However, some members of the public, apparently in reliance on the original article, seem to misconceive that Carson City has adopted the system which has been invalidated.
My office reviewed the Ninth Circuit panel opinion after it was issued, and we intend to continue to monitor the progress of the case. I am confident that the structure of Carson City elections is fully compliant with the decision and with all constitutional requirements.
Link to Ninth Circuit panel decision: http://tucson.com/read-the-ninth-circuit-opinion/pdf_2aa3d1a0-87c4-11e5-a4ca-0f0dbee852db.html
Link to CC-1 form 2014 ballot: http://www.carson.org/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=41816