In the aftermath of City elections with an abysmal turnout, the Los Angeles City Council voted 13-1 to approve the ordinance that would change the City’s primary and general election date to be held on the same dates as Federal and State elections.
The measure will be placed on the ballot during the City’s primary election held on Tuesday, March 3, 2015. If approved by voters, the ballot measure would consolidate city elections, currently held in odd-numbered years, with Federal and State elections in June and November of even-numbered years beginning in 2020.
Voter participation has been on a steady decline in Los Angeles. In the most recent Mayoral election, the city-wide turnout was only 23 percent.
“The voter turnout in Los Angeles is embarrassing,” said Council President Herb Wesson. “A Revolutionary War was fought and people died to give us certain rights. As an African-American, it’s important to remember that people gave their lives in the struggle for the right to vote. Today, we see efforts in some states, primarily the South, to suppress voter turnout. Here in Los Angeles, we must move to increase voter turnout.”
As Chair of the City Council’s Rules, Elections and Intergovernmental Relations Committee, Council President Wesson, worked extensively in conjunction with the City of Los Angeles Municipal Elections Reform Commission to research and produce a report of findings and recommendations regarding the best manner to improve and enhance voter participation and civic engagement with respect to the City’s electoral process, and related matters.
Council has already acted on approving 23 other recommendations made by the committee, including prepaid postage stamps for absentee ballots.Before any decision was made, the Rules, Elections and Intergovernmental Relations Committee heard from as many people and election experts as possible during committee meetings and public forums.
“The committee held city-wide public hearings to encourage a city-wide conversation about voter participation and to receive as much input not just from experts, but also from the public,” said Wesson. “This isn’t the end of the conversation, this is only the beginning of our work in addressing this problem. As a city, we have much more work to do.”