Consulting firm Political Data Intelligence (PDI) announced on Monday that, as of Monday afternoon, only about 15% of voters had sent in ballots for the Primary election, well below the amounts of recent previous elections.
According to PDI, final turnout is expected to be no more than 30% of California’s eligible voters, even with a major recall election in San Francisco and the Mayoral primary in Los Angeles. During the last mid-term primary, in 2018, 22% of voters had sent in ballots before election day, with 37% in total coming out. And in the last major election, September 2021 gubernatorial recall election, a whopping 38% of voters sent in ballots before election day, ultimately ending with 58% voter turnout.
However, unlike the last 3 major elections in 2018, 2020, and 2021, which offered a chance to rebuke Trump policies, a Presidential election, and a choice to oust Governor Gavin Newsom, many believe the same excitement isn’t here. On a more local level, there is higher turnout in San Francisco and LA due to their major elections, but even then it barely meets where the 2018 mid-terms were at the time, with San Francisco currently with 21% of ballots already in due to many wanting to recall DA Chesa Boudin. Even in an era with mail-in ballots, more voting options, and a growing number of competitive races, 2022 is shaping up to be no much like previous elections.
“It’s a boring election,” said PDI Vice President Paul Mitchell. “It’s clear from what we’re seeing that we’re going to have a low-turnout election despite the fact the state has made it easier than ever to vote.”
With no “exciting” elections in many parts of the state, plus high voter apathy and disappointment with the administrations of Trump, Biden, Newsom, and other state and federal lawmakers, the state is looking at its lowest voter turnout in years.
“Mid-terms are usually the elections that show the country if the party in power is going to turn over or not,” explained Wilmer Alvarez, a Californian based campaign organizer , to the Globe on Monday. “2014, Republicans started gaining in strength again, which led to major wins in 2016. Then in 2018 came the blue wave, especially in California, leading to Biden coming in two years later. Now, nationwide, the GOP is coming back due to Biden and Democrats becoming increasingly unpopular.”
“But you can’t make people vote, and in California, most candidates just aren’t speaking to voters. Sure you have Boudin and [Los Angeles DA George] Gascon facing the chopping block, and in LA the Mayoral race is big. But we just had a Governor’s race that is not really competitive now that’s happening. Same with other major state seats and the Assembly, Senate, even Congress. In November people will care, but early selection here just isn’t doing it right now.”
“I honestly thought it would be higher than 15% by this point, but the mail-in ballots are also losing their novelty. During COVID, yes, they were needed. Controversial, but needed. But now? It’s Californian law for mail-in ballots to go out to everyone. There is voter fraud concerns and yet an unwillingness to go back to the absentee ballot system that was the best of both worlds.”
“When the dust settles after Tuesday, we really need to do a major assessment at just how well those are working. It’s an apathetic election, but if mail-in ballots are found to not be keeping those numbers up, we may need to seriously consider reversing the mail-in law. There’s more here at stake besides the elections.”
California primaries are on Tuesday June 7th statewide.