Another election, another low turnout as 34th Congressional District vote nears final count

Candidate Jimmy Gomez accepts congratulations after announcing the initial vote count for the 34th Congressional District runoff at his campaign headquarters on June 6, 2017, in Los Angeles, California.
Candidate Jimmy Gomez accepts congratulations after announcing the initial vote count for the 34th Congressional District runoff at his campaign headquarters on June 6, 2017, in Los Angeles, California.
Daryl Barker/KPCC

The latest numbers from the 34th Congressional District runoff show once again that participation in Los Angeles local elections remains stubbornly low. 

State Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez defeated former L.A. planning commissioner Robert Ahn in Tuesday's election. Gomez will fill the seat formerly held by state Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

Gomez solidified his win in the latest count with 25,269 votes to Ahn's 16,255 votes, giving the assemblyman 60.85 percent of the tally compared to 39.15 percent for Ahn.

Election officials had counted 41,679 votes as of Friday afternoon, they said in a news release. That count pins voter turnout at a low 13.7 percent of eligible district voters.

Officials still have 1,685 provisional and vote by mail ballots to count, but these won't change the outcome.

Low turnouts have clouded local elections in Los Angeles despite high interest in the 34th district congressional campaign, which covered communities like Eagle Rock, Boyle Heights and Koreatown.

"This was a very competitive congressional race made more competitive by the fact that the Korean candidate did kind of an amazing job in the early absentees [vote by mail ballots] in pushing out voters," said Paul Mitchell with Political Data Inc., an elections research firm. "But then when it came to poll voting ... the Latino candidate really surpassed and over performed at the polls."

While national elections can result in high voter turnouts, such as the 75 percent turnout in last year's presidential general election, local races have failed to generate similar interest.