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L.A. dismal voter turnout: 8.6% as ballot count continues

L.A. elections: Charter Amendments 1 and 2 win

Tuesday's municipal elections marked another dismal election day for voter turnout in Los Angeles.

As of Wednesday morning, turnout was 8.6%, according to numbers from the City Clerk's office. That number will rise as more absentee and provisional ballots are counted. So far, 157,577 ballots have been counted, and 43,814 remain uncounted. 

Two ballot measures designed to boost turnout in Los Angeles city and school board votes won.

Charter Amendments 1 and 2, which would move L.A. elections from odd to even-numbered years to coincide with presidential and gubernatorial election cycles, were each leading with 77%, though that number may change as provisional ballots are counted.

"This is a great win for the people of Los Angeles -- tonight they won back their elections from the special interests who have controlled local politics for far too long," said Dan Schnur, a co-chair of Citizens for Increased Voter Participation and former chairman of the state Fair Political Practices Commission.

Opponents argued the change would actually increase the sway of special interests and force local candidates to raise more money. The measures would also give some elected officials extra time in office.

Just under 21% of registered Los Angeles voters marked ballots in the 2013 primary election, a race that featured an open mayoral seat and several contested City Council seats.

And only 1 in 7 registered voters bothered to turn out for City Council candidates in 2011.

Because of the low turnout, candidates don't need that many votes to make it to a runoff or even win their election outright. Once elected, the candidate represents a district with about 250,000 constituents.

Based on numbers thus far, here's how the winners did in Tuesday's election:

Paul Krekorian: 6,704 votes

Nury Martinez: 5,344 

Marqueece Harris-Dawson: 5,891 

Herb Wesson: 7,022 

Mitch Englander: 11,224 

Jose Huizar: 11,081

Voter turnout has been declining rapidly over the last few decades, and city officials have debated what to do about it.

At a recent state hearing, academic experts and community organizers suggested a number of potential remedies: increasing the amount of money the state gives to counties for voter outreach, expanding early voting and creating dispersed "community voting centers" to replace assigned polling places, do more targeted outreach to ethnic communities and infrequent voters who are often overlooked by political campaigns — and even requiring people to vote, as is done in Australia.

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