Voting booths. Photo by Stephanie Rivera.
Voting booths. Photo by Stephanie Rivera.

The preliminary turnout for Tuesday’s Los Angeles primary election — which included a pair of ballot measures aimed at boosting voter participation — was 8.6 percent, although the figure is expected to rise as ballot-counting continues, the City Clerk’s Office announced Wednesday.

The clerk’s office still needs to tally 46,412 outstanding provisional ballots, vote-by-mail ballots turned in at the last minute and questioned ballots. So far, 157,577 ballots have been counted. There are more than 1.8 million registered voters in the city.

The city has until March 24 to certify the results as official.

Even with the outstanding ballots, the turnout will likely wind up at about 11 percent, and it “might be the lowest in a very long time,” Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute at Cal State Los Angeles, told City News Service.

He added the low turnout was not surprising given that there were no citywide elected offices on the ballot, such as the mayor, city attorney and controller.

But in 2011, when the same seven council districts were on the primary election ballot, turnout was 14.13 percent.

Boosting turnout was the motivation behind two ballot measures in Tuesday’s election. Voters passed Charter Amendment 1 and Charter Amendment 2, which will switch city and school board election schedules from odd-numbered to even-numbered years, coinciding with higher profile races such as gubernatorial, congressional and presidential races. The even-numbered elections will begin in 2020 and 2022.

Mayor Eric Garcetti lamented the low turnout, but said the charter amendments might help.

“This election was important and will help shape our city’s future, so I’m disappointed that voter turnout was so low,” he said. “I hope our new charter amendments will contribute to higher turnout in the future elections.”

A few of the contested races in Tuesday’s primary did see higher turnout than the overall citywide turnout rate.

The 14th District race — which featured a heavyweight match-up between City Councilman Jose Huizar and former county Supervisor Gloria Molina — had the highest unofficial turnout rate of 15.2 percent.

The crowded race in the 4th District drew 12.3 percent of voters. The race had an unusually large field of 14 candidates seeking an open seat being vacated by termed-out City Councilman Tom LaBonge.

Two council races in which incumbents were met with strong challengers saw a voter turnout of around 9.5 percent. In those races, 10th District Councilman Herb Wesson fended off Koreatown activist Grace Yoo, and in the 6th District, Councilwoman Nury Martinez held onto her seat in a rematch against former Assemblywoman Cindy Montanez.

City News Service

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