The news release from the California Secretary of State touts "the highest turnout for a gubernatorial election since 1994," of more than 59 percent of registered voters
But before you break out the champagne to toast California's new civic-mindedness, you might consider a couple of facts.
First, the Secretary of State's claim omits a higher turnout during the October 2003 special election, when we recalled one governor and elected another.
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Second, turnout figures among registered voters are not nearly as important as turnout figures based on people who are eligible to vote. In this area, California looks terrible. Even at a time of profound crisis, just 43.7 percent of Californians eligible to vote in the election turned up to cast a ballot.
The number of people who didn't bother to vote -- some 13 million -- is more than twice the number of people who voted for the most successful statewide candidates and initiatives. The winner in this November's elections: those who have given up on voting as a way to change California.