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Los Angeles City Elections 2013

Hey L.A., your vote actually matters

May 20, 2013|By Alexandra Le Tellier
  • The percentage of registered voters who cast a ballot in L.A.'s mayoral elections peaked in the late 1960s and has declined to historic lows, according to a Times analysis of 100 years of city election results. INTERACTIVE CHART
The percentage of registered voters who cast a ballot in L.A.'s mayoral… (Ben Welsh / Los Angeles Times )

The big story about L.A.’s city election taking place Tuesday is that very few Angelenos are likely to vote. Never mind that we’re electing a mayor of Los Angeles tomorrow. Only 21% of voters turned out for the March 5 primary election, and The Times’ forecast  this time isn’t optimistic.

“More than 2 million people can vote for mayor of Los Angeles. But if history is a reliable guide, as many as 1.6 million of them will skip Tuesday's election,” write Ben Welsh and Michael Finnegan. “That low turnout could mean that the winner will garner fewer votes than any newly elected mayor since the pre-freeway era of the 1930s, according to a Times analysis of L.A. election records.”

In his most recent column, Steve Lopez jokes that this is “the race half the city doesn't care about and the other half hasn't heard about.” But he implores readers to listen up. “Here’s the deal,” he writes. “The city's many problems exist in part because City Hall is controlled by a few powerful special interests, and when fewer and fewer of us vote or pay attention to the way business is conducted at 1st and Main, those interests become even more powerful.” (1st and Main, by the way, is where City Hall is located downtown.)

The Times’ editorial board has also questioned Angelenos’ political apathy, calling it “an embarrassment” in a March 6 editorial that described what’s at stake for our city, currently “in the midst of a deep financial crisis.” The board also argued:

Voting, as this page has noted, is an act of optimism, an affirmation that politicians are accountable to the people and that every vote matters. Low turnout, by contrast, gives disproportionate power to those -- too often affiliated with one special interest or another -- who bother to show up.

Not voting can reflect despair or disinterest or, ironically, contentment. No matter which, it's clear that too many Los Angeles voters are taking for granted a right that people around the world fight and die for.

If you’ve tuned out of the race until now, here’s a crash course:

The Times’ endorsements

Just print out this page and bring it with you into the voting booth. Done and done.

Video interviews with mayoral candidates Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel

They take questions from voters whose interests may be similar to yours.

ALSO:

Newton: Decision time for L.A.

A to-do list for L.A.'s next mayor

You want issues? These are L.A. issues.

Follow Alexandra Le Tellier on Twitter @alexletellier

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