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).

What You Need
to Know

What is the California
Voting Rights Act?

Why By-District Voting?


District Elections come to San MarcosWhat 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?

For the first time, residents in the City of San Marcos will vote for council members by district instead of an at-large election.

During this 2018 election, only residents from District 1 and District 2, as determined by their voting address, will be selecting a council member. Districts 3 and 4 will then vote for council members during the 2020 election. (City of San Marcos District Map)

2018 voting Districts v 2020 Voting Districts

  • District 1 includes Richmar area and proceeds west to Poinsettia Avenue, east to Woodland Parkway, north to Borden Road and south to the 78 Freeway.
  • District 2 includes San Elijo Hills along with Old Creek Ranch, Discovery Hills, Rancho Dorado and adjoining neighborhoods.
  • District 3 includes area around Cal State San Marcos, the Creek District and Civic Center area, and extends east to the Nordahl Marketplace, west to Rancho Santa Fe Road and north to the 78 Freeway.
  • District 4 includes Santa Fe Hills, Palomar College and neighborhoods north of Borden Road and Santa Fe Road to the west.

To be eligible to run for office in San Marcos, candidates must reside in the district that they seek to represent. All San Marcos residents will continue to vote for the City’s mayor.

The San Marcos city council voluntarily adopted district-based voting in September of 2016 to ensure the City’s taxpayers are not exposed to a risk of future litigation for any alleged violations of the California Voting Rights Act. 

Find your district





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 Tuesday,  Nov. 6 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?