Politics

Human Voter Guide is back: Get ready for March 7 primary election

FILE PHOTO. Voters cast their ballots during early voting at the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters office on October 22, 2008 in Norwalk, California.
FILE PHOTO. Voters cast their ballots during early voting at the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters office on October 22, 2008 in Norwalk, California.
David McNew/Getty Images

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Local primary elections across Los Angeles County will take place March 7 – that’s just over a month away.  To help you get ready, we are back with the Human Voter Guide.

The Human Voter Guide airs on KPCC's Take Two and the station's website and answers your voting questions. We help you wade through California's confusing election rules and will help you vote like a pro in no time. 

This is the first Human Voter Guide segment leading up to the March primary election, featuring numerous local races in the city and county of L.A. and other municipalities.

Have a question about voting or something on the ballot? Call 323-538-5722 and leave a voice mail or send a text. You can also reach out via email: humanvoterguide@gmail.com. 

Let's get started:

Q: This election hasn't been getting much attention. What’s on the ballot?

That depends on where you live. Across Los Angeles County there are 13 local measures and one countywide measure. The county initiative would raise the sales tax by a quarter cent to fund homeless services. For the measure to pass, two-thirds of voters need to support it. You can read more about it here.

In the city of Los Angeles, several City Council seats will go before voters. One of the most interesting races is City Council District 7 covering northeast San Fernando Valley.

Listeners may remember that Council President Herb Wesson is currently overseeing that district in addition to his own. That's because the district's former councilman, Felipe Fuentes, left abruptly last year to become a lobbyist. 

Twenty candidates are competing for the District 7 seat. We’ll have more on that race in the coming weeks, but if you live in that district, you may want to check out a candidate forum on Saturday at 11 a.m. in Lake View Terrace

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is also up for re-election. He is facing a field of 10 challengers, most of them are little-known candidates. Political consultant Mitchell Schwartz is the only competitor who’s raised a significant amount of money, although not as much as Garcetti has.

For his part, Garcetti is looking to avoid a general election runoff in May. To do that, he’ll need 50 percent of the vote plus one to win re-election in the primary. 

Q: What if I want to vote by mail? When does it get underway?

If you're already signed for a mail ballot, start checking your mail box for your ballot because vote by mail starts today. If you are not permanently signed up to vote by mail, you can request a vote by mail ballot from the county online here until Feb. 28.

Another thing to keep an eye out for is your sample ballot booklet, which tells you exactly what will be on your specific ballot. Those started going out a couple of weeks ago and they're helpful to know what you'll want to do your homework on before you vote. Don’t worry if you haven’t gotten yours yet, they're mailed out on a rolling basis. 

Q: What about voter registration? How much time do people have left to get registered to vote?

The official voter registration deadline for this election is Feb. 21.

A brand new law on the books for this election allows people to register to vote on election day but you have to do it at your county elections office and you'll get a conditional ballot to give officials time to check your eligibility, according to L.A. County Registrar Dean Logan. Los Angeles County's elections headquarters is at 12400 Imperial Hwy. in Norwalk.

But it's best to register early to avoid any problems. If you've moved, you can also change your address online.

Q: Given the political climate and protests around the state, could voter turnout for Los Angeles improve?

This question is on the minds of many who study elections in the state. There's certainly a lot of room for improvement.

Los Angeles County recorded one of the worst registered voter turnout rates in the state in November. Voter turnout in the city of Los Angeles also ranks low.

But both Latinos and Asians in Los Angeles County voted at significantly higher rates than they did back in the 2012 presidential election, according to Mindy Romero who directs the California Civic Engagement Project at University of California, Davis.

In general, turnout in municipal elections is particularly low. When Mayor Eric Garcetti was elected in 2013, only about 23 percent of all registered voters showed up for the election. 

Correction: An earlier version of this story referred to the general election runoff being in November. In fact, the general election is in May. KPCC regrets the error. 

Series: Human Voter Guide

Municipal elections will be held across Los Angeles County on March 7. To help you navigate the way, we've revived KPCC's Human Voter Guide, a series of questions-and-answers about the California elections.

Have a question? Email our senior political reporter Mary Plummer, tweet her @maryplummer or leave a voice mail or text at 323-538-5722.