A new survey of 1,000 California residents conducted by California Forward indicates that the “overwhelming” majority of Californians are concerned by the recent historically low voter turnout in statewide primary elections, but are “unsure of the solution.”
California Forward, a “nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to bring government closer to the people and move the state in the right direction,” conducted the survey to attempt to answer the question of why just 18.3 percent of the state’s 38 million residents cast a vote in June’s primaries.
According to the results of the survey, 89 percent of respondents said the low voter turnout in the primaries is “cause for concern.” Nine out of ten people surveyed said people were under the impression that their vote “doesn’t matter,” and 75 percent of respondents said that the elections were unfairly “tilted toward special interests.”
However, when asked why the turnout was so low, or what should be done to increase turnout in the future, the responses were more varied.
70 percent said public financing of elections would “level the electoral playing field” and subsequently boost voter turnout. Respondents were split down the middle on whether the state should switch to an all-mail ballot system, although mail-in ballots have their own set of problems. On the proposal allowing 16-year-olds to pre-register to vote, just 46 percent of those surveyed said the proposal was “important.”
A majority of those surveyed agreed that providing voting instructions in plain, easily understandable language was crucial in getting voters to the polls.
The bottom line, according to California Forward: “Californians agree that low voter participation is a problem without a quick fix.”
One solution: vote, either in-person or by mail, and encourage friends and family to vote on or before Election Day. Abraham Lincoln said it best: “Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their backs on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”