Election officials in Riverside and San Bernardino counties estimated Monday that it will cost at least $1.1 million to hold a stand-alone special election next year to fill the vacancy created by the surprise resignation of state Sen. Bill Emmerson, R-Redlands.
The state hasn't covered counties' special election costs since 2007. Earlier this year, Emmerson carried a bill to require the state to reimburse counties but it stalled in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
"Fiscal uncertainty is a reality for government agencies and these unplanned and unfunded elections are an immense burden on the budgeting process," Emmerson said in a committee analysis of the measure.
Emmerson's resignation takes effect Dec. 1. After that, Gov. Jerry Brown will call a special election to fill the vacancy in the 23rd Senate District. Given the calendar, it's likely that there will be a stand-alone special primary election in March or April and the special general election will be consolidated with the June 3, 2014 statewide primary ballot.
Emmerson's resignation continues the special election travails of San Bernardino County, which sponsored Emmerson's reimbursement measure, Senate Bill 519.
Former state Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod's November 2012 election to Congress led to four special ballots in the county -- two to replace Negrete McLeod and two more to fill the Assembly seat of former Assemblywoman Norma Torres, who won the Senate contest.
Monday, San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters Michael Scarpello said the county is still calculating the expense of holding a special election in Emmerson's 23rd Senate District.
The county appropriated $700,000 apiece for the special elections to fill the Negrete McLeod vacancy. The county's portion of that district contains about 259,000 voters, about 40,000 fewer than in the county's portion of the Emmerson district.
Scarpello did not know how much the county would have to spend on a special ballot consolidated with the June 2014 election.
Riverside County Registrar of Voters Kari Verjil said her office has estimated that the county will have to spend $415,000 for a stand-alone special election in the 23rd. Holding a special general election in the 23rd consolidated with the June primary will cost $150,000, Verjil estimated.
Emmerson's office declined to comment.
PHOTO: State Sen. Bill Emmerson, R-Redlands. Photo courtesy of Sen. Bill Emmerson's office..