There is a simple and direct way to resolve the debate about San Onofre. The issue needs to be put to a vote in Orange and San Diego counties on the same day.

The county counsels in the two regions need to draft identical ballot measures that simply ask for a thumbs up or thumbs down vote on reopening the nuclear power plant. This way, the 6 million people living closest to San Onofre, which is operated by Southern California Edison, will have their say in the matter.

I'm guessing that those evacuated from Fukushima two years ago in Japan might like to have that option as a do-over. Today, their former homes, schools, shops and parks are shuttered in a veritable 20-kilometer "dead zone" that some experts predict could last as long as 10,000 years.

Last September, the Friends of the Earth reported that 58% of SCE customers polled living within the San Onofre service area opposed the reopening of the power plant. The only trouble was that figure represented a mere 406 out of 700 people questioned. Hardly an overwhelming groundswell of opposition in my opinion.

To counter those findings, SCE said, "Any survey of its customers' opinions should 'accurately describe the role San Onofre plays' both in power generation and reliability and grid support." Not exactly the most comforting of words if you ask me.

A simultaneous special election in Orange and San Diego counties would allow millions of people the opportunity to voice their opinion on this contentious issue. After all, if San Onofre blows one day, where will everyone go? There simply aren't enough condos in Palm Springs to accommodate us all.

DENNY FREIDENRICH lives in Laguna Beach.