Big question mark – voter turnout on June 7

Posted 6 years 26 days ago ago by   

Ted Toppin, CSR legislative advocate

Sacramento, Calif. - June, of course, brings California’s statewide primary election. Voters will nominate candidates for President, U.S. Senate and 53 congressional seats. We will decide on one proposition of little consequence, pick the two candidates who will compete for 20 state Senate and 80 state Assembly seats in November, and make countless other decisions in our local communities.

There’s really nothing left to add about the presidential campaign. It’s ugly, and it is going to get uglier. The U.S. Senate race – which features 34 candidates – is of interest mainly because we are replacing the woman who held the job for 24 years – Barbara Boxer.

When you go to the polls to make your own choices for state Senate and Assembly, please take along the list of CSR-endorsed candidates that accompanies this article. They have a proven record of supporting state retirees!  

A big unknown is whether large numbers of Californians will actually bother to vote. Secretary of State Alex Padilla reported nearly 200,000 Californians registered to vote or updated their registration online on May 23, the last day to register to vote ahead of the June 7 primary. This surge pushed new and updated registrations past the 1.8 million mark for the year. 

“It couldn’t be clearer – Californians of all ages want to vote. It is exciting to see so much interest, particularly among young people. For many young people, this will be their first time voting, and that’s a great thing," Padilla concluded. 
It would be nice if that turns out to be true. But registering to vote (online remember) and actually voting are two very different things. Voting requires you to overcome some combination of logistical hurdles: requesting a vote-by-mail ballot, buying a stamp or two, identifying your polling place, making the time to go to the polls, and deciding among candidates that you may know very little about.

Remember, less than two years ago, California turnout in both the primary and general elections set records for all-time lows. Only 25 percent of voters came out that June, with 42 percent showing up in November.  
This year, turnout in the Democratic primaries around the country is down by about 20 percent compared to the last contested presidential race in 2008. The opposite is true on the Republican side where intense hype, multiple candidates and highly competitive races boosted turnout over 2012 by an amazing 60 percent, according to an analysis by Breitbart News.

Will California see the turnout Secretary Padilla predicts? Or, given that the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees are all but decided, will the numbers look more like the anemic results from 2014? We will let you know and will report on the primary results soon.