The low voter turnout in yesterday’s state election reflects the fact that the contents of the ballot aroused little interest. The consequences of this apathy are results that were determined by a small minority in areas that impact all Californians.
The Field Institute estimated that voter turnout during the primary election would be just 25% of all Californians of voting age. Meaning, by percentage, that 12.5% plus one vote, or approximately 2.5 million voters, would represent the intentions of the majority of the state’s 23 million potential voters.
What a powerful minority! Their only merit is being interested when the majority has lost interest. They participated in an election because it is their civic duty, whether or not there were attractive issues on the ballot. If they are on the ballot, it’s because they are important to voters.
Democracy doesn’t require enthusiastic campaigns or massive marches; it does require voters who are aware of their responsibilities. Democracy includes routines that are even boring, but no less important because of that.
It is true that the hotly contested Republican primaries had been decided, there is a new open primary system and Propositions 28 and 29 are boring. However, the large amounts of money special interests have invested in the measure to change state legislative terms and the one to increase taxes on tobacco show that the initiatives are significant and relevant.
In this type of election, the highest participation is among older voters, plus conservatives and whites who usually vote by absentee ballot. They don’t represent the profile of the average California voter, but everything depends on the rest of the people who turn out to the polls.