The L.A. Times ran Steve Lopez’s column on the front page today lamenting the fact that only 16% of voters in the City of Los Angeles bothered to vote in Tuesday’s primary, even though they were voting for a new mayor and an important half-cent sales tax measure (that went down to defeat). (Election officials believe the turnout might rise to 20% once all absentee and provisional ballots are counted.)
Santa Monica holds its local election in November of even-numbered years. The turnout last November was 78.72%.
In L.A., candidates and their supporters run campaigns to get their voters to the polls. In effect, they choose their voters, and whoever can motivate the most, or who has more voters with special reasons to vote, wins. In Santa Monica, the voters are going to vote anyway because of the national and statewide races. The candidates have to persuade them who to vote for—the voters choose the winners.
Sure there are problems running local elections in Novembers of even-numbered years. Speaking as a losing candidate in November’s election, I can tell you that it’s hard to reach masses of voters when you’re competing for attention with national and statewide campaigns.
But the voters who vote represent the people—actually they don’t represent the people, they are the people. (It’s no coincidence, but when Santa Monica wanted to pass a half-cent sales tax increase the City Council put the measure on the November 2010 ballot, and it passed.)
Just one reason—not the only one—why Santa Monica is bettered governed than L.A. Oh, and it has a name. It’s called democracy.
Thanks for reading.