San Marcos district voting process

Press Enter to show all options, press Tab go to next option

As of September 2016, the San Marcos City Council approved the move to by-district voting and district boundaries as provided in the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA).


Interactive District Map & Demographics

What You Need
to Know

What is the California
Voting Rights Act?

Why By-District Voting?

What you need to know:

As a public entity, the City Council—the city’s chief policy-making body—enacts laws known as ordinances, sets policies known as resolutions and adopts an annual budget. The City Council also oversees a variety of commissions that deal with specific city-related issues. These advisory commission members are appointed by the City Council.

What are by-district elections?

By-district elections select a single council member from a corresponding geographical section of the city, called a district, giving those within a geographic area more direct representation.

Council Members are elected by citizens of San Marcos within pre-determined geographic districts to represent the district and serve a four-year term with a maximum of three consecutive terms. The Mayor seat would continue to be elected "at-large" by all citizens of San Marcos. 

The new election process will create four council districts of approximately 8,000 voters. The district elections will be phased in beginning November 2018, when representatives from Council Districts 1 and 2 will be elected. Two years later, in 2020, council members from Districts 3 and 4 will be on the ballot.

What are the city's district boundaries?

  • District 1 will include the Richmar area and proceed west to Poinsettia Avenue, east to Woodland Parkway, north to Borden Road and south to the 78 Freeway.

  • District 2 will include San Elijo Hills along with Old Creek Ranch, Discovery Hills, Rancho Dorado and the adjoining neighborhoods.

  • District 3 will include the area around Cal State San Marcos, the Creek District and the Civic Center area, and extend east to the Nordahl Marketplace, west to Rancho Santa Fe Road and north to the 78 Freeway. 

  • District 4 will include Santa Fe Hills, Palomar College and neighborhoods north of Borden Road and Santa Fe Road to the west.

Interactive District Map & Printable Map

Does a candidate have to live in the district they hope to represent?

To be elected, a candidate must live within the boundary of the district that they seek to represent. The current city council members, and those elected on Nov. 8, will all complete their four-year terms. They will then be eligible to run for re-election in the district in which they live.

What is the California Voting Rights Act?

The California Voting Rights Act of 2001 (CVRA) expands on the Federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 to help prevent disenfranchised voters.

Enacted in 2002, the CVRA eliminated several key burden of proof requirements that exist under federal law and only applies to jurisdictions, like the City of San Marcos, that utilize “at-large” election methods, where voters of the entire jurisdiction elect the members of the City Council.

Since enactment, more than 130 entities—cities and school districts—have switched from at-large elections to district elections.

Why did the City of San Marcos move to a by-district voting system?

The city has a strong track record of various racial and ethnic groups working together for the benefit of all such groups and the city as a whole. The City Council voluntarily plans to implement a by-district election to protect the city’s taxpayers from the risk of future litigation for any alleged violations of the CVRA. 

This recommendation is not based on any admission or concession that the city would ultimately be found to have violated the CVRA; rather, due to the combination of the CVRA’s low burden to trigger mandatory districting and its mandatory attorneys’ fees provision, all CVRA cases that have been filed have ended with the defendant governmental agency implementing a district election system and making some sort of attorneys’ fee payment.

More Information

For more information, please contact the City Clerk’s Office at (760) 744-1050, ext. 3100.

For media inquiries, please contact Communications Officer Sarah Macdonald at (760) 744-1050, ext. 3174 or

Why by-district voting?
Why by-district voting?
Why by-district voting?