With the June Primary almost a week away, San Diego is on the cusp of experiencing record low voter turnout. I’m talking about turnout potentially so weak it could damage the city’s psyche.
The top of the ticket and propositions are usually responsible for creating excitement and driving voters to the polls, but those campaigns have been blah, blah, blah. Incumbent California Governor Jerry Brown is content to let nature take its course. In a state where his Democrats enjoy a 15% advantage over Republicans, the popular Governor is mounting no campaign and many Democrats see zero reason to cast a ballot. Largely dispirited Republicans are not thrilled about going to the polls (though, being Republicans, many will vote anyway). And that’s just the situation at the state level.
In San Diego,voter fatigue has set in. After the white hot 2012 Mayoral race led to the wrenching Bob Filner era and then to two rapid-fire elections to succeed the disgraced Mayor, voters are worn out. Sure, there are those who have a consistent history of voting; hopefully we can count on them showing up. But only 22% of registered voters fall into this vote-nearly-every-time category so they’re not the ones who will push voter turnout higher.
That would have to come from what we call moderate propensity voters – those who may or may not vote depending on what’s on the ballot, how much prodding they get from the campaigns and, frankly, how they feel on election day. Right now, they’re not feeling well at all.
Consider this: two weeks before the November 2013 special election, 13.6% of San Diego’s voters had cast a mail ballot. Voter turnout was eventually 35.5% in that election. Fast forward to two weeks out from this June’s election and only 6.2% had cast a mail ballot. If I use November’s early returns as a guide, I get an unfathomably pathetic turnout of 16%! That’s unheard of for a scheduled citywide election in San Diego.
Come on San Diego, it’s rally time! Prove me wrong.