Turnout remains low throughout the day in L.A. County election

Turnout remains low throughout the day in L.A. County election
Most of the voting booths inside the East Whittier United Methodist Church were empty for large swaths of the day Tuesday as voters turned out in low percentages for primary election day. (Rick Loomis)

Turnout remained low at Los Angeles County polls throughout the day Tuesday, as voters cast ballots for dozens of local, state and national candidates, including a new sheriff and two open seats on the powerful county Board of Supervisors.

Primary election turnout is typically low. In the 2012 primary, which included a presidential election, just under 22% of the county's 4.4 million registered voters cast ballots; in the 2010 primary, turnout was about 23%.


But Tuesday's turnout has been even more sluggish. Officials with the county registrar's office said an hourly turnout sampling of 30 precincts showed estimated turnout of 11.41% as of 5 p.m., compared with 16.4% for the same period in the 2010 primary election.

There were some exceptions, like the polling station at Marine Park in Santa Monica, which saw a steady stream of voters early Tuesday.

One poll worker said, "it's been busy, busy, busy. They were waiting for us at 7 am. There was a line wrapped around the building."

Rick Gordon, 65, of Santa Monica, who voted there, said the "financial issues" were most important to him, over the personalities of people running for office.

Gordon said he voted for Bobby Shriver, a former Santa Monica councilman and Kennedy family member, in the District 3 race to replace county Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. He said he wants fiscal conservatism and that "although Bobby Shriver was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he's worked hard."

Gordon also said he respected how Shriver got into politics, by fighting the city of Santa Monica over the height of his hedges. Gordon said he has tall hedges too and thought the city had too much oversight on such things.

Heather Donovan of Santa Monica said she voted for former state lawmaker Sheila Kuehl in that race because Kuehl is visible in the community and has a more grass-roots way of doing things.

"She's in our community and I have friends that know her and she's a hard worker, totally hands on," Donavan said.

On the other side of the county, Maria Luisa Gutierrez, 79, admitted she didn't understand all of the issues listed on her primary ballot Tuesday at the Highland Recreation Center.

"I skipped those because I didn't feel right voting for them," she said as she clutched a cane and tried to straighten her hair, which was being tousled by the wind.

But one candidate who did win her vote was former U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who's running to replace District 1 Supervisor Gloria Molina. Gutierrez said she met Solis while working at the former Arroyo Furniture before retiring more than two decades ago.

"She gave a good impression," Gutierrez said. "I've followed her from then on."