In an effort to increase voter turnout, the Los Angeles City Council Wednesday called for a proposal moving city elections to June and November of even-numbered years. The 12-1 vote, with Councilman Bernard Parks dissenting, asked that the proposal be drafted in time to submit to voters at the March 2015 election. The shift from odd- to even-numbered years would take effect with the 2020 elections. It would allow incumbent officials at that time to serve an extra 18 months. “If voting was a business, we would be going bankrupt,” said Darry Sragow, a USC professor and a former campaign consultant. “The first thing is the way people vote should be a reflection of the way they lead their lives. Everything in our lives is different with cell phones, the Internet, where we work, how we work. “Participation rates are steadily declining. It is not the people’s fault. It is the fault of a system that no longer reflects their day-to-day existence.”
Sragow and Fernando Guerra, a Loyola Marymount University professor, served as co-chairs of a special commission examining participation for city elections.
The move would put municipal elections more in keeping with when people expect to go to the polls. Having city votes coincide with presidential and gubernatorial elections is the most compelling overall fix to solve the turnout issue, they believe.
“You would be increasing turnout by two-thirds of what you now have,” Guerra said.
The last city election, which included a race for mayor, had an 18.5 percent participation rate. Typical even-numbered-year elections have turnouts in the 60 percents.