A committee said Monday that runoff elections should be eliminated for Modesto City Council races and more time should be given for deciding close mayoral races.
City officials have been looking at ways to fix Modesto's runoff system since embarrassing mistakes were made with runoff elections in 2001 and 2005.
Runoffs are held in early December for the top two vote-getters if no candidate gets a majority vote in the November election. The schedule leaves little time for officials to certify the November vote and prepare ballots for the runoff.
Mayor Jim Ridenour appointed a committee last year to study the issue, and the seven-member panel recommended Monday that the city keep only the mayoral runoff and move it to February.
The City Council could decide next month to put the matter on the ballot in November, giving voters the final say. The changes, if approved by voters, would take effect for the 2011 city elections.
A consultant with National Demographics Corp. advised the committee that runoffs prevent officials from being elected with small pluralities and increase legitimacy and support of elected officials, one reason the committee wants to keep the mayoral runoff.
On the other hand, the runoff system increases campaign costs, and that could discourage people from running to represent their council district.
The city canceled a 2001 runoff when 10,000 ballots didn't go out in time, and it went to court to block a 2005 runoff election, which was held based on a misreading of the November returns.
Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2321.