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August 2017 Essential Politics archives

This is Essential Politics for August 2017. Find our daily look at California political and government news over here.

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2018 election

Legislator proposes putting local races ahead of presidential elections on California ballot to boost participation

California state Sen. Anthony Portantino, shown speaking to La Cañada High School students recently, wants to shake up the California ballot. (The Spartan Collective)
California state Sen. Anthony Portantino, shown speaking to La Cañada High School students recently, wants to shake up the California ballot. (The Spartan Collective)

Concerned about low voter participation in local elections, state Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada-Flintridge) proposed Wednesday that the order of future ballots be flipped so that local contests would be first and presidential or gubernatorial races would be last.

The state recently mandated that most cities and school districts hold their elections during statewide and national election dates.

Portantino said that in the November election, many people voted for president because that contest was it at the top of the ballot and state offices and ballot measures came next. Only some make it through the end of the long ballot, where there are elections for city councils and school boards.

“I think more people would be apt to go down through the ballot with the president at the end,” Portantino said. “There is a drop off of people who vote for president and then close the books.”

The senator said the idea was suggested to him by Glendale City Clerk Ardy Kassakhian, who ran for a Glendale Assembly seat in 2016 and lost to fellow Democrat Laura Friedman. The seat previously was held by former Assemblyman Mike Gatto, a Democrat who termed out.

“Given this new state mandate, it is the right thing to do to feature our local offices and local civic issues first,” Kassakhian said in a statement.

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