Numbers reflect dismal voter turnout

Final voter turnout numbers from the Nov. 4 general election are trickling in and the news is bleak.

The statewide figures were not yet available, but counties across California, facing Tuesday’s deadline, were sending their final numbers to the state election officer in Sacramento, who will report the results on Dec. 12.  On Nov. 4, about 7.4 million people voted, according to preliminary numbers.

In Los Angeles County, the state’s largest, of some 4.9 million registered voters only about 1.52 million actually cast ballots, or about 33.42 percent of the eligible registered voters, according to the county registrar. Orange County reported about 640,000 voters cast ballots out of 1.42 million registered, a turnout of 45 percent. San Diego’s numbers were expected by the end of the day.

Nearby Riverside County reported a 40.12 percent turnout.

To the north, the  participation levels generally were higher.

Alameda County reported 45.12 percent turnout, Contra Costa 49.1 percent and Santa Clara County 50.18 percent. Sacramento County reported 48.4 percent.

Statewide, the turnout of registered voters dipped below 60 percent in seven elections out of a total of 58 elections over a century between 1910 and 2012 —  in 1918, 1942, 1986, 1988, 1990, 2006 and 2010.

Although statewide figures are not final for the Nov. 4 election, turnout has been estimated at between 40 percent to 46 percent, which would be a record low, lower than the 50.57 percent turnout in 2002, when Gray Davis won reelection as governor, and a record low for a general election since 1910.

In June, state election officials reported the lowest turnout ever for a California statewide election.

Secretary of State Debra Bowen said only 25.2 percent of registered voters actually cast ballots in the June 3 primary election. Even as participation dropped, the level of voters who vote by mail increased to 69 percent, four points higher than the previous record set in June 2012.

The distinction for the second-lowest turnout of any statewide election was set in May 2009, when 28.4 percent of registered voters cast ballots in a special election.


Want to see more stories like this? Sign up for The Roundup, the free daily newsletter about California politics from the editors of Capitol Weekly. Stay up to date on the news you need to know.

Sign up below, then look for a confirmation email in your inbox.


Support for Capitol Weekly is Provided by: