The City of Los Angeles has tasked a citizen’s panel to solve the great mystery of disappearing voters. Armed only with excellent electoral sleuthing skills, the commission will battle the epidemic threatening the legitimacy of LA’s democracy—voter apathy—and explore ways to boost voter participation. Given L.A.’s abysmal voter turnout, getting Angelenos to the polls won’t be easy.
This year’s Los Angeles mayoral runoff had the lowest turnout, a paltry 23 percent, in the last 100 years. Despite record-breaking campaign spending in the hotly-contested race, just one in four of the city’s two million eligible voters bothered casting a ballot. For some historical context, that means Mayor Eric Garcetti received fewer votes than any newly elected mayor since the 1930’s.
“The turnout is embarrassing,” said L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson. “It really makes me sick to my stomach.”
Spurred by the record low participation rate in this year’s mayoral election, Wesson and Garcetti called for the creation of a Municipal Elections Reform Commission to identify changes that would increase turnout. The nine member panel will submit their recommendations, which may include common proposals such as shifting the election dates and Election Day voter registration, to Garcetti and the City Council by May 2014.
“It’s now time to for us to make it more convenient and to make it easier for voting,” said Wesson.