Can changing when Los Angeles votes reverse a long-term decline in turnout? Los Angeles lawmakers Friday are set to consider letting voters decide whether city elections should be moved to even-numbered years. The City Council has asked its lawyers to prepare two measures for the March 3 ballot aligning city and school board elections with state and federal contests. But some activists are warning that such a move could cause voter participation to decrease even more. Hans Johnson, president of the East Area Progressive Democrats, pointed to results from the June primary, which showed slightly more than 16% of L.A. voters casting ballots. That’s down 7 percentage points from the May 2013 mayoral runoff, when around 23% of voters took part. “This process is being rushed forward with a lack of review of the implications,” Johnson said.
Council President Herb Wesson, who favors the change in election date, said the issue has been discussed for months by lawmakers and civic leaders. Elected officials have to be willing to try new things to address the lack of voter involvement, he said.
“If [the election date change] doesn’t do what people expect it to do, then we’ll have to make adjustments,” Wesson said.
City and school board elections are currently held in March and May of odd-numbered years. Under the proposal, those contests would shift in 2020 to June and November of even-numbered years.