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Why Did Apathy Reign in Tuesday's Election

Some local precincts showed turnout rates lower than 10-percent. What happened?

Though absentee ballots are yet to be counted, the Los Angeles City Clerk's office reports that only 16-percent of the city's voters turned out for Tuesday's primary elections.

Mayoral candidates Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel will runoff for the city's highest executive office having each earned less than 100,000 votes.

Locally, the race for Council District 1--which includes Highland Park, Cypress Park and Mount Washington--were not much better. According to the clerk's office, only 17-percent of local voters cast ballots.

Former Assemblyman Gil Cedillo will runoff against Ed Reyes' longtime Chief of Staff, José Gardea. In a district of more than 80,000 registered voters, neither candidate earned more than 7,000 votes.

Registered voters in Council District 14, which is home to Eagle Rock and Garvanza, were even more apathetic than their CD 1 neighbors. According to the city clerk's office, only 16.04-percent of voters in the district participated in the election.

The lower turnout in CD 14 makes some sense, as there was no council district election to decide. Nevertheless, 17,500 ballots cast in a district of 109,500 is still abysmal.

In yesterday's Los Angeles Times, columnist Steve Lopez suggested a few ways to boost voter turnout, ranging from the practical (hold civic elections in November, when voters turn out in greater numbers for national issues) to humorous (allow voters to cast ballots at Starbucks).

But voting isn't that difficult, especially when the stakes are so high. Not only were municipal seats up for grabs, Tuesday's election included tax increase and pension reform measures. Two seats on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education--which finds itself pitted in battle between teachers union backed candidates and would-be reformers--were also up for grabs locally.

With such overwhelming apathy, we're curious to know what you think kept voters away from the polls. Was it a dearth of distinction between candidates? Did the outcomes seem like foregone conclusions? Is L.A. simply too cool to care about how represents them in office?

Patch Asks: Why didn't L.A. Vote?

Suzanne March 07, 2013 at 08:15 PM
I can't believe I'm saying this, but there are too many separate elections here. This would be a perfect time to look at voting alternatives, like cumulative voting or instant runoffs, as well as combining elections. In addition to (potentially) boosting voter turnout (or at least prevent it from descending into the single digits), it would save a great deal of money.
El Cid March 07, 2013 at 09:29 PM
I guess many failed to step up and do what's right. Do your civic duty and VOTE!
Tim Ryder March 08, 2013 at 08:22 AM
Pay people to vote-$20 bucks should get most folks in or use "Fear-mongering" like Michael Larsen used in the local Eagle Rock election scaring all the rabbits into thinking 'Marijuana Outsiders' were trying to take over their neighborhood council. Anyway you look at it, 16% 'democracy' is a farce and should be declared invalid.
Stephan Early March 08, 2013 at 06:34 PM
I think that the hard core positions being taken by so many high profile politicians has convinced too many people that no politician is reasonable or worthy of endorsement. It would seem that the misrepresentation of positions ie cuts are necessary for Social Security, we'd be weak if we cut defense( even though we spend ten to fifteen times as much as any other country, so weaken credibility that many people become cynical and disenfranchised, hence they don't vote.
ManSky March 08, 2013 at 07:33 PM
I second those notions. It's more like voter fatigue than voter apathy.
Maggie Thatcher March 08, 2013 at 08:11 PM
Please sign the petition to legalize beekeeping in Los Angeles. http://honeylove.org/legalize/ And if possible email a letter of support to LA City Council!!

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