A Democrat-led referendum designed to put party affiliations next to the names of all county candidates on the ballot has qualified for the Nov. 4 ballot, elections officials said Friday.
If passed, all county races would be partisan, and the mayor’s race would move to the presidential-year election cycle, when Democrats more often turn out.
With more than 46,000 voter signatures verified, it marks only the second time a petition-driven referendum has qualified for the ballot under Orange’s charter. The GOP-led County Commission will put a competing measure on the same ballot which, among other things, asks voters to make all county races nonpartisan.
“It crystallizes the partisan battleground,” said CountyWatch Chairman Doug Head, describing the dueling efforts.
CountyWatch is a bipartisan watchdog group that formed partly around promoting partisan local races. Despite that, CountyWatch is staying neutral in this latest fight since some GOP members object to partisan races, said Head, former head of Orange County’s Democratic Party.