Election Problems: Small and Large: Voter Turnout Under 40%

Despite, the rain, many people voted in person in Pacific Palisades.


California sent vote by mail (VBM) to all registered to vote. In May, the state proposed $5.8 million in one‑time General Fund and $5.9 million ongoing General Fund to reimburse counties for the cost of providing prepaid postage on VBM ballots in qualifying elections, which the Commission on State Mandates (commission) found to be a state‑reimbursable mandate.

Has voting by mail increased participation? Are all ballots counted?

The Los Angeles County Registrar released its sixth-post election ballot count update on November 16.

The total election results count is now 1,997,887 which is 35.50% of registered voters. Election results can be viewed on LAVOTE.GOV.

The estimated number of outstanding ballots to be processed is 463,050. See estimates below:

  • Vote by Mail ballots (VBM): 453,000
  • Conditional Voter Registration ballots: 10,000
  • Provisional ballots:50

The estimated number of outstanding Vote by Mail ballots includes those postmarked by Election Day and received by November 15.

The estimate also includes ballots that are pending signature cures from voters whose signature on the Return Envelope was missing or did not match their registration record. These voters have been notified with instructions on how to cure their ballot to be counted.

Yesterday in Circling the News musings, a reader suggested that residents check with the County to make sure their ballot was counted.

After seeing that comment, a Huntington Palisades resident, who had put his ballot in the voting box on November 8 (because it was raining and he didn’t want to wait in line at the library), went online to see if his ballot had counted.

It had not. When he called, he learned it had been rejected because the signature didn’t match.

“That’s pretty frightening,” he said and asked who is matching the signatures. Are they experts or just citizens who are taking a look and saying, yes or no? Signatures can change over time as people age. “What if I had a broken finger?” the resident asked and added, “We need to go back to in-person voting.”

Check to see if your vote counted: https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/ballot-status/wheres-my-ballot

(Editor’s note: According to the L.A. Times, in Southern California in the 1982 election 41.57% of the voters had gone to the polls and in 1986 those participating were 34.6 %.

In a 2014 Fair Vote piece (“What’s the Matter with California Turnout?”), the author’s write:  “In 1943, author William Faulkner tartly described California as the state where ‘the sun shines and nothing happens.’

“His observation aptly describes California’s June 2014 primary election. Despite clear skies and warm sunshine, more than three-quarters of registered voters did not vote. Turnout of registered voters, at 24.6% , was a record low . Yet this statistic conceals the extent of low turnout. In May 2014, California had 24,192,752 eligible voters, of whom 17,722,006 had registered to vote. Based on California’s much larger number of eligible voters, turnout was even lower: a meager 18%.

“The turnout in 2014 may have been a historic low, but it reflects long-term trends in California democratic participation. While turnout rates remain higher than those of many states, they are down precipitously from the mid-20th Century, when the Golden State led the nation with some of the highest turnout rates in primary elections.

“Between 1950 and 1966, for example, an average of 63% of registered voters participated in primary elections. In the past decade, however, California primary turnout has been far lower.

“Turnout in state primaries was 34.6% in 2002, 33.6% in 2006, 28.2% in 2008, 33.3% in 2010, and 33.1% in 2012. The introduction of the Top Two primary in 2012 and the presence of presidential contests in 2008 and 2012 failed to salvage turnout. This year’s 24.6% turnout marked the lowest turnout yet.”)


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One Response to Election Problems: Small and Large: Voter Turnout Under 40%

  1. Dear Editor, The issue for me is not that the voter turnout was low but, instead, why is it low. In any case, does the rate of turnout matter? Also, who or what is harmed and in what way if the rate of turnout is low? Is it appropriate to conclude that those who do not vote, except for the sick, disabled or otherwise challenged, are either disinterested or uninformed. If true, shouldn’t we be glad that those persons do not vote? Perhaps many people have discerned that regardless of the election outcome, their material living condition will not change and they are reasonably satisfied with their current condition. So why vote?
    There are other more troubling factors related to voting, among which are: Does the average citizen know enough about the candidates and/or issues to be able to vote intelligently? And, in any case, what does it mean to vote intelligently? And to what extent does money distort the process?

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