Represent! | Politics, government and public life for Southern California
Politics

Election 2014 turnout: Only 1 in 4 LA voters cast ballots in Tuesday's midterm



Voters take to the polls at the First Methodist Church in Santa Monica to cast their vote in the 2014 mid-term election.
Voters take to the polls at the First Methodist Church in Santa Monica to cast their vote in the 2014 mid-term election.
Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC
Voters take to the polls at the First Methodist Church in Santa Monica to cast their vote in the 2014 mid-term election.
On the heels of a primary in which just 17 percent of the county's registered voters cast ballots, only one in four registered voters in Los Angeles County turned in a ballot on Tuesday.
Voters take to the polls at the First Methodist Church in Santa Monica to cast their vote in the 2014 mid-term election.
Voters take to the polls at the First Methodist Church in Santa Monica to cast their vote in the 2014 mid-term election.
Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC


Listen to

01:30
Download this 0.0MB

This story has been updated.

Leading into Tuesday's midterm election, some pointed to a record-low voter turnout in California, and Los Angeles County voters did not disappoint. Only one in four registered voters in Los Angeles County turned in a ballot on Tuesday, according to an early analysis from the county's Registrar-Recorder.

Among the state's counties, only Imperial County had a lower turnout with 22.4 percent of voters casting ballots. Los Angeles County's turnout was 25.5 percent based on the registrar-recorder's pre-certified results and preliminary data from the California Secretary of State's office.

The dismal participation rates come on the heels of June's primary, in which just 17 percent of Los Angeles county's 4.5 million registered voters cast ballots. (Primary elections usually bring out fewer voters.)

Tuesday's turnout in Los Angeles is less than half of the turnout for the last midterm election, in 2010 — when 53 percent of registered voters cast a ballot — and appears to be a record low for midterm elections since 1942.

The previous low came in 2002, when 45 percent of voters cast a ballot, according to available election data from Los Angeles County.

Los Angeles County voter turnout in midterm elections since 1998

"I think a lot of people are just ... they're upset about the government. And they feel, especially young people like me, they feel like the government isn't doing things for them, or they're not representing us," Westwood resident Faran Imani said. "So when they feel that sense of detachment, it's a lot harder for them for them to be more energized and more happy to vote."

Imani said few of his friends voted Tuesday. 

The voter turnout results won't be final for a while. Los Angeles county begins its canvass on Thursday and is scheduled to certify election results on Nov. 28. As for final numbers, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is tentatively scheduled to declare election results official on Dec. 2.

Los Angeles County voter turnout in midterm elections since 1998

Election Registered Voters Ballots Cast Turnout Vote by Mail Ballots Vote by Mail as percent of ballots cast
2014 midterm 4,544,455 1,147,248 25.25% 325,421 28.37%
2010 midterm 4,421,019 2,377,105 53.77% 678,651 28.55%
2006 midterm 3,899,397 2,033,119 52.14% 531,383 26.14%
2002 midterm 3,962,831 1,784,320 45.03% 359,682 20.16%
1998 midterm 3,854,826 2,058,862 53.41% 407,776 19.81%

Statewide, turnout came in at 29.9 percent, according to pre-certified results, falling far below 2002's record-low for a midterm election. That year it was 50.6 percent.

Less than half of the state's counties cracked the 50 percent turnout mark.

In Orange County, the pre-certified turnout of 32.6 percent was the lowest dating back at least 25 years, Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley said.

Kelley expects that figure to increase to above 40 percent thought as canvassing continues. He said there are about a little more than 150,000 ballots - mail, provisional and paper - left to process.

Turnout in Imperial, Riverside and San Bernardino counties came in below 30 percent, according to the respective elections offices. Riverside (29.8 percent) and San Bernardino (27.15 percent) were record lows according to available data. Turnout in San Diego and Ventura hovered between 32 and 35 percent.

In all, statewide turnout was a steep decline from the highest turnout on record for a midterm election. In 1958 79 percent of registered voters cast ballots.

Joakim Daoud, a UCLA student, said he didn't vote because he didn't have faith in any political candidate to deliver on promises.

"In politics, any politician in any country, you can choose anyone, a man, a woman, anything, it's the same result, same result," he said.California voter turnout in midterm elections since 1990

As for types of ballots used, more people went to the polls than mailed them in.

After steady increases since 1998, absentee and vote by mail ballots as percentage of those cast in L.A. county have flattened. They're coming in at 28.36 percent, compared to 28.55 percent in 2010. Numerically, of course, many fewer ballots were cast absentee or by mail, since twice as many voters participated in 2010.