Record Low Voter Turnout in California's History

Record Low Voter Turnout in California's History

Not since November 5, 1946 have fewer voters cast votes in a California statewide election, and never has a lower percentage of registered voters been recorded voting in an election in the state.

At 18.3%, California has just seen the lowest voter turnout percentage ever in its history by a significant margin, according to Secretary of State records.

Further, L.A. County is currently reporting the lowest voting percentage of any county in the state with a 13.1% turnout. As of May 19, 2014, L.A. Democrat registration was almost 50%, Republican approximately 20%, and no party preference 17%.

The millions of dollars spent in races throughout the state didn’t bring out high voter turnout but did have an affect on the voters that did show up. The Governor’s race saw late entry by Neel Kashkari, who had terribly low polling number in the 2% range up until just a couple weeks before the primary. With the backing of big name establishment Republicans like Karl Rove, Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney, Kashkari and outside spending groups spent millions. TV and mail ads included attack ads against Republican opponent Tim Donnelly, a State Assemblyman. On election day, Kashkari garnered 19.1% of the vote, edging out Donnelly at 14.8%, still far behind Brown who took home 54.4% of the vote.

Outside groups like the California Teachers Association (CTA), Spirit of Democracy California, and others spent millions in multiple races. An earlier Breitbart report noted spending in the Superintendent of Public Instruction race by a PAC with major funding from the CTA putting out at least $2.3 million to support Tom Torlakson and oppose Marshall Tuck. The final race results left Tuck in second with 28.7% of the vote, far behind first place finisher Torlakson at 46.9%.

Despite the millions spent leading up to it, on Election Day any number of Californians asked responded with remarks not being aware that an election was even taking place. Some citizens walking by polling places had no idea what was going on inside. One poll watcher remarked how desolate she found the polling sites she visited. A report by Capitol Weekly noted the approximately 300,000 votes cast for state Senator Leland Yee, the anti-gun activist recently brought up on charges of arms trafficking and corruption.

In an election with low turnout, each vote carries a greater influence on the percentage attributable to the candidates that voter chooses. That makes get out the vote efforts particularly important in this case. The result of a given race can be greatly influenced by how many supporters a candidate can actually get to mail in a ballot or go to the polls.