California primary

With Few Early Voters Hitting the Polls, California Primary Could Have Record Low Turnout

If the trend of low voter turnout continues, California could break its 2014 record for lowest voter turnout, when just 25% of registered voters came out to cast ballots for the primary.

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California's primary election day is finally here. But despite weeks of TV ads and voter pamphlets in the mail, early voter turnout has been low for this election.

Early Tuesday morning, there weren't any voting lines outside the LA County Registrar's headquarters -- one of the many locations voters can cast their ballots for the June 7 primary election.

If the trend of low voter turnout continues, California could break its 2014 record for lowest voter turnout.

In that year, just 25% of registered voters came out to cast ballots for the primary.

So far, voter turnout for the 2022 primary election has been disappointing both in-person and for vote-by-mail.

LA County primary elections tend to have fewer voters overall, so the low numbers this year aren't too surprising, according to USC political science professor Dr. Ange-Marie Hancock Alfaro.

In the 2020 presidential primary, for example, of a total 20,660,465 registered voters in Los Angeles County, only 96,87,076 of those voters actually cast a ballot in the primary. That's a little under 47% participation.

The voter turnout for that primary was also higher than turnout in the previous primary election in 2018, when just 7,141,987 of 19,023,417 registered voters cast a ballot, for around 37.5% participation.

Here's what voter turnout looked like for the 2016, 2018 and 2020 primary elections for SoCal counties:

Part of the problem for LA County may be that it's a one-party county, with a majority Democrat voter base, Dr. Alfaro said. Because of that, many people may think they don't need to vote.

But according to Dr. Alfaro, it's important to remember that the two candidates with the most votes in the primary election move on to the ballot in November. If you don't vote in the primary, you could get stuck with two choices you don't like later on.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday in California. Click here to learn more about what local races you might want to vote in.

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Note: The candidate order is randomized. Source: California Secretary of State
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Steven Wright, an LA County voter, is considering his options carefully.

"Taking a look a little bit more closely at the candidates, with the Sheriff, etc. and the controller, treasurer -- these things that are not getting a lot of publicity, but at the same time, wanting to do homework," Wright said.

Metro will be offering free bus and train rides on Tuesday, June 7 to help people get to the polls. The bikeshare program will also offer free 30-minute rides on Tuesday with the promo code 060722 -- the date of the election.

Vote centers can be found at the county elections office links below.

Registered voters who were sent vote-by-mail ballots can return their ballots by mail by Tuesday, drop them off at a vote center, or in an official vote-by-mail drop box location.

And remember:

  • If you're in line before polls close, you can vote.
  • If you missed the registration deadline, you can still register on Election Day. Same-day registrants will be given a Conditional Voter Registration ballot that will be counted once it is verified by elections officials.

There are 155 offices being voted on, 597 candidates on the ballot and 639 in-person vote centers.

Get all the latest information on the California primary here.

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