Thursday, May 21, 2009

The saddest little election ever

Another election day has come and gone, the voters (at least some of them) have spoken, and now the legislature and governor must try again to close the gaping hole in California's budget.

Tuesday was the polar opposite of last November's General Election when there was so much excitement and so many new voters eager to participate. A few million voters participated in the statewide special election, but many more stayed home. The number of voters who cast ballots Tuesday will come out somewhere over 4 million, compared to November 2008, with a turnout of 13.7 million California voters. This week's total turnout numbers may not even exceed those of June 2008 (4.5 million), which also was a pretty sad election.

It's clear voters are eager to participate when there are issues or candidates on the ballot that draw them out and where they feel their vote can make a difference. That was not the case for millions of Californians with this statewide special election. For more thoughts on voter participation trends in California and the election process, take a look at my paper, The California Voters' Experience, published last October.

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