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Lawmaker has solution to low voter turnout in Los Angeles

May 23, 2013|By Patrick McGreevy
  • Melissa Morales, right, votes at the Tenrikyo Mission in the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles.
Melissa Morales, right, votes at the Tenrikyo Mission in the Boyle Heights… (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles…)

A state lawmaker has a possible answer to the dismal voter turnout in Los Angeles city elections.

State Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) said it was frustrating that only about 19% of eligible voters in Los Angeles turned out to the polls Tuesday to cast ballots for a new mayor, as well as other city posts.

His answer: Hold Los Angeles elections for citywide offices at the same time as the presidential election, when voter turnout is much greater.

The last presidential election saw about 54% of Los Angeles-area voters show up at the polls.

“Aligning these races would help increase turnout in elections that hit closest to home and save taxpayers millions of dollars,” de León said. “It’s critical we consider the positive impact this would have by making Angelenos a more important part of the political process.”

He said Los Angeles voters appear to be disenchanted returning to the polls just months after the presidential contest.

The Los Angeles City Council has considered consolidating the elections several times before, but the current voting systems cannot accommodate such a large ballot, according to Holly L. Wolcott, executive officer for the Office of the City Clerk.

The county voting systems would have to be modernized for a consolidation to be possible, she said.

“It’s a possibility in the future, but right now it’s a physical impossibility,” Wolcott said.


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