L.A. changes election dates

Los Angeles city hall wikimediaOccasionally an election itself epitomizes a political situation. That was the case Tuesday with the Los Angeles primary.

The main items on the ballot were  Charter Amendment 1 and Amendment 2, which respectively changed the city and LAUSD elections to even years, beginning in 2020.

The argument for the amendments were that separate elections like this have low voter turnout. So the elections should be changed to years with bigger items on the ticket, such as the presidential election.

The election itself proved the point as just 9 percent of voters turned out, according to the Los Angeles City Clerk. That was just 1/7th the 69 percent turnout for the 2012 presidential election.

Both amendments passed with 77 percent of the vote.

The old system was a result of a previous reform from the Progressive Era in California 100 years ago. Other reforms of that day included the state initiative and referendum system and, nationally, the direct election of U.S. senators and women’s suffrage.

In this case, the argument was that separate elections would focus voters’ eyes more on local issues, instead of confusing them in the midst of consolidated elections. That turned out not to be the case. In particular, voters mainly perk up during presidential election years, especially in these modern times of massive TV, newspaper and Internet coverage.

One argument in favor of the change was that the current system discriminated against minority voters. But nothing prevented them from voting. And the Progressives themselves generally favored more open voting for minorities.

In any case, the new, consolidated system will be in force, come 2020.

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John Seiler

John Seiler

John Seiler has been writing about California for 25 years. That includes 22 years as an editorial writer for the Orange County Register and two years for CalWatchDog.com, where he is managing editor. He attended the University of Michigan and graduated from Hillsdale College. He was a Russian linguist in U.S. Army military intelligence from 1978 to 1982. He was an editor and writer for Phillips Publishing Company from 1983 to 1986. He has written for Policy Review, Chronicles, LewRockwell.com, Flash Report and numerous other publications. His email: [email protected]

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