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San Diego County Turnout Just 20 Percent

Political Scientist Calls It “Perfect Storm Of Disinterest”

Evening Edition

Aired 6/4/14 on KPBS Midday Edition.


Michael Vu, Registrar of Voters, San Diego County

John Nienstedt, President & CEO, Competitive Edge Research

Carl Luna, Political Science Professor, Mesa College


San Diego County voters exceeded expectations of a low turnout for Tuesday’s primary election, with just 1 in 5 registered voters casting a ballot.

Secretary of State Debra Bowen’s office reported 317,510 ballots in San Diego County were cast out of more than 1.5 million registered voters.

Prior to Tuesday’s election, experts had warned low turnout was likely because of a lack of heated races and ballot measures and voter fatigue.

“We just had fires in San Diego, that probably disrupted some things. There was no high-ticket, sexy component to this race. The governor’s race is a yawn, it’s not like it’s a presidential race. It’s a perfect storm of disinterest," Mesa College political science professor Carl Luna said on Evening Edition. “That being said, San Diegans will now have to live with the results of their disinterest. Hopefully they’ll be more motivated to vote in the fall."

San Diego County Registrar of Voters Michael Vu projected Monday that 35 percent of registered voters would cast a ballot. Meanwhile, the National University System Institute for Policy Research predicted a turnout of 18 percent to 23 percent.

Over the last 18 months, San Diegans have voted for a new mayor, a city councilwoman, a state senator and an assemblywoman — mostly in separate special elections. The mayor and council races each resulted in two votes, a primary election and a runoff.

Polls stayed open until 8 p.m., but most San Diego County voters have turned to casting their ballot via mail rather than voting at a polling location.

City News Service contributed to the information in this report.


Avatar for user 'mclanea'

mclanea | June 4, 2014 at 9:51 a.m. ― 1 year ago

I'm not sure if it's voter fatigue. My perception (as someone who usually votes but didn't even know there were elections this month) is that going to the polls in June is not exactly compelling.

I thought about voting yesterday after hearing about it on the radio. But then I couldn't bring myself to it because I had no idea what was on the ballot.

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Avatar for user 'Chip'

Chip | June 4, 2014 at 10:17 a.m. ― 1 year ago

Your post is a joke, right?
You "usually vote," but didn't know there was an election?
Didn't you wonder about all those signs with people's names on them?
Didn't you get any campaign mailers and a sample ballot?

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Avatar for user 'bajagene'

bajagene | June 4, 2014 at 10:26 a.m. ― 1 year ago

Though not a change to the theme of low voter turnout, this article would have been more accurate if the number of possible remaining votes were included, i.e., as of the time the other numbers were grabbed, the Registrar reported on their website:
"There are APPROXIMATELY 98000 Mail / Provisional ballots still to be counted".
That could bump the percentage up another 6%. That would still be below Registrar Vu's prediction but above NUS's.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | June 4, 2014 at 10:40 a.m. ― 1 year ago

Is this why a lot of crooks, cheats, and scoundrels were re-elected??

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Avatar for user 'RothAC'

RothAC | June 4, 2014 at 11:55 a.m. ― 1 year ago

Peking_Duck_SD: I think the answer is yes. Not that we want uninformed people casting votes. What's required for democracy to work the way the Founders envisioned it is an involved and informed electorate. We sure don't have that in San Diego!

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Avatar for user 'twrb'

twrb | June 4, 2014 at 5:15 p.m. ― 1 year ago

We really need to ballot initiative reform....starting with quorum requirements. It's absurd that something like only 13% of eligible voters show up (or 87% of people can stay home) and yet make major decisions, like overturning the Barrio Logan community plan. It's like one member of the City Council showing up for a meeting and passing whatever laws s/he feels like because nobody else is there. And it makes it possible for special interests like industry to just buy whatever laws they want. Ridiculous.

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Avatar for user 'Chip'

Chip | June 4, 2014 at 5:44 p.m. ― 1 year ago

The S.D. County Registrar count on 6/4 at 3AM listed 98,000 uncounted absentee ballots.

Here is an interesting breakout for the governor's race (all of the county).

164,838 votes (non-mail) were cast for gov. (the Lt. Gov. total was 299,208!)
Add the 98,000 mail-ins (assume they all voted for Gov.),
262,838 TOTAL votes for Gov.

317,510 Total ballots cast in county per S.D. County Registrar

54,672 per Registrar's numbers, at least this many ballots had no vote for governor!

Humans sure are hard to figure out!

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Avatar for user 'Chip'

Chip | June 4, 2014 at 7:22 p.m. ― 1 year ago

My 6/4, 5:44pm posting had serious math errors and should be deleted asap!

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Avatar for user 'Mmikey'

Mmikey | June 5, 2014 at 9:56 a.m. ― 1 year ago

"Is this why a lot of crooks, cheats, and scoundrels were re-elected??"

seems to be an unwritten requirement to get into politics these days.

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Avatar for user 'Eddie89'

Eddie89 | June 11, 2014 at 10:51 a.m. ― 1 year ago

"There was no high-ticket, sexy component to this race."

Since when does doing your civic duty require there to be a "sexy" component to voting!?

It's sad that our electorate is more interested in watching the inane ramblings of the Kardashians' than taking part in making this a better world.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | June 11, 2014 at 11:05 a.m. ― 1 year ago

People living within walking distance and yet did not vote. There was much more at stake than a first glance would indicate. My boss didn't vote and then justified it by saying that he still has a right to complain simply because he "pays taxes" (along with thousands of other full-time teachers, I might add.) Another co-worker of mine simply "forgot." A third just gripes, but is basically burned out.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | June 11, 2014 at 11:37 a.m. ― 1 year ago

I didn't vote because, contrary to what your teacher or parents told you, one vote really won't make a difference.

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | June 11, 2014 at 11:53 a.m. ― 1 year ago

"What's required for democracy to work the way the Founders envisioned it is an involved and informed electorate. We sure don't have that in San Diego!"

Not disagreeing with your post, but I want to add that the Founders didn't "envision" voting for slaves or women. The Founders laid the groundwork but had absolutely no idea what constitutes a TRUE democracy. They couldn't see life beyond their own self-interests.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | June 11, 2014 at 2:37 p.m. ― 1 year ago

I don't really think slaves should be allowed to vote, DeLaRick.

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