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Voter Turnout Far Below Expectations

Samantha Oltman | March 6, 2013

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Yesterday’s primary election attracted millions of dollars in outside spending, but it couldn’t attract Los Angeles voters’ attention.

Citywide, only 16 percent of LA voters cast ballots at the polls, according to figures from the LA City Clerk’s office.

This was far below initial expectations. According to political consultants LA School Report spoke with before the election, insiders had been projecting a 20 – 25 percent turnout rate.

The last time there was an election resembling this year’s was 2005’s primary election, when LA had an open mayoral seat, several city council positions, and three LAUSD Board seats on the ballot. Citywide turnout was 29 percent, and an average of 28 percent of voters voted in the Board races — even though the three Board races were uncontested.

That’s almost double the turnout in this year’s primary.

In the three hotly contested Los Angeles School Board races yesterday, average turnout was only 13 percent.

East LA’s District 2 race between incumbent Board President Monica Garcia and four challengers had a 13 percent turnout, and her 56 percent win avoided a runoff.

The Westside/Hollywood District 4 election between incumbent Steve Zimmer and Kate Anderson drew a slightly higher turnout — 15 percent. Zimmer bested Anderson with 52 percent of the vote.

And in District 6’s East San Fernando Valley, only 12 percent of voters cast votes for the three candidates, none of whom emerged as a clear winner.

The District 6 Board seat is headed for the runoff election in May. If yesterday’s turnout was any indication, it will take a different approach than the standard election mailers and phone banking to get more voters to the polls in the next election round.

Previous posts: Insider Predictions: Two Runoffs & A “Jump Ball”; FINAL LAUSD ELECTION RESULTS; Outside Spending Up $400K Since Friday – Nears $5 Million

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