Six steps to fix L.A.'s depressing voter turnout


Not many voters in Los Angeles’ municipal elections Tuesday - as expected -- showed up to the polls. As of Wednesday morning, turnout was around 8.6%, though that percentage will increase as absentee and provisional ballots are counted.

With another grim election day for voter turnout, experts have talked about ways to get more people to participate.

Here are some ideas:

CHANGING ELECTION DATES: This is a change voters on Tuesday actually made. 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. Some believe L.A.'s odd-year elections depress turnout.

MORE THAN ONE ELECTION DAY: Some propose expanding early voting and creating dispersed “community voting centers” to replace assigned polling places. Also: doing more to target outreach to ethnic communities where voting levels are particularly low.


AGGRESSIVE OUTREACH: One of the biggest challenges, experts say, is convincing people to turn out on election day. One idea floated frequently is increasing the amount of money the state gives to counties for voter outreach efforts.

OREGON’S BIG IDEA: Oregon may become the first U.S. state to make the switch. Lawmakers there are moving toward creating a registration system that would use driver’s license records to automatically sign up eligible residents. The concept of automatic registration is gaining some interest in California and will the subject of a legislative hearing in the coming months.

L.A. VOTING MODERIZATION: Los Angeles County is in the beginning stages of a multimillion-dollar overhaul of its own voting system. Officials said the new system would probably involve giving voters more options about when and where to vote.

VOTING IS THE LAW: In Australia and a few other countries voting is mandatory. The law was enacted nearly a century ago to boost low voter turnout. Polls show the law is popular, even though those who don’t vote face fines.


As of Wednesday morning, turnout from Tuesday’s election was just 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.