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Final L.A. vote count shows Garcetti’s meager mandate

Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles’ incoming mayor, won the office with fewer votes than any newly elected mayor since the 1930s, when the city population was less than half its current size, according to a Times analysis of final results released late Friday.

Garcetti’s vote total of 222,300 was well ahead of his opponent, City Controller Wendy Greuel, but smaller than any new mayor since Frank Shaw was elected in 1933.

The results represent another low mark in what have been decades of declining voter turnout. The city clerk’s final tally from the May 21 election found that only 419,592 of the city’s 1.8 million registered voters cast a ballot. The 23.3% turnout was the lowest in any two-candidate runoff in the past 100 years.

Waning participation in city elections has prompted officials to consider switching municipal voting to the same day as state or federal elections, which draw more attention and voters.

Turnout for L.A. mayoral elections peaked in 1969. The racially charged contest pitting white incumbent Sam Yorty against African American City Councilman Tom Bradley drew a record 76% turnout, with 856,174 voters casting ballots -- more than double last month’s total. Bradley lost, but ousted Yorty in a 1973 rematch, becoming the city’s first black mayor.

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The final count of last month’s ballotting confirmed the preliminary outcomes in contests for mayor, City Council seats, other offices and a handful of ballot measures.

In the mayor’s race the new tally added 74,385 votes to the initial election-night count -- many of them provisional ballots or absentee ballots dropped off on election day at polling places.

Garcetti, a councilman representing Silver Lake, finished with 54.2% of the vote, compared with 45.8% of votes cast for Greuel.

This year’s low turnout did not drop below the meager 17.9% turnout in the 2009 primary, when Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa faced no well-known challengers in his run for reelection.

No runoff was necessary that year because Villaraigosa received greater than 50% of primary votes.

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ben.welsh@latimes.com


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