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Election 2013

Should L.A. City Elections Sync Up With Presidential Years?

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Thu, May 23, 2013 at 7:06 AM

click to enlarge ERIN LEIGH MCCONNELL / FLICKR
  • erin leigh mcconnell / Flickr
Tuesday's election was historic. We got our first elected mayor of Jewish ancestry. And our second mayor in modern times with Mexican heritage.

But most of you didn't bother to vote. The L.A. City Clerk registered a low-low "ballots cast" percentage of 19.2. Meaning one out of 5 of you -- and that's just of the ones who are even registered to vote -- bothered to show up. That number probably will increase to nearly 1 out of 4 as the final tally is certified by June 11. Still, it's kind of sad:

Eastside state Sen. Kevin de León wants to change that. He thinks part of the problem is that city elections are not held in sync with presidential elections, which tend to draw many more voters.

The last presidential race saw more than one in two registered voters show up to re-elect or (or try to replace) President Obama.

De León's office puts it this way:

The structure of local political offices having elections months after voters have been heavily targeted by presidential voting leads residents to become disenchanted. Despite the millions of dollars spent on advertising for these campaigns, it seems to be falling on deaf ears because Los Angeles residents increasingly are turning out to vote in very low numbers.

The L.A. city charter dictates when our elections are held, City Clerk's spokeswoman Kimberly Briggs confirmed to us.

To change that, she said, it would take a 50 percent "plus one" vote of the people. If only you'd show up! (See what the charter says, regarding when elections must be held, at the bottom of this story).

De León isn't proposing state legislation. He's just talking. Here's what he says:

Aligning these races would help increase turnout in elections that hit closest to home and save taxpayers millions of dollars. It's critical we consider the positive impact this would have by making Angelenos a more important part of the political process.

Here's what the charter says:

... The Primary Nominating Election shall be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in March in every odd-numbered year and the General Municipal Election shall be held on the third Tuesday in May in every odd-numbered year as provided in Charter Section 401. Special Elections shall be held on the dates established by the ordinances calling those elections and shall otherwise be held and conducted, and the returns shall be canvassed, announced and declared, in the same manner as other elections and pursuant to the applicable laws and processes of the jurisdiction conducting the election.

-With reporting from staff writer Gene Maddaus.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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