Uninterested in Politics

by Dave Schuler on March 7, 2013

Registered voters in Los Angeles give new meaning to the words “uninterested in politics”:

Mark the date, remember the day.

On March 5, 2013, Los Angeles redefined apathy.

A measly 16% of the city’s registered voters — or perhaps around 20% once all the mail-in ballots are counted — turned out in an election with the following things at stake:

How much we pay in sales tax, who controls the nation’s second-largest school district, who might fill nine City Council seats and three community college board positions, and who will serve as city attorney, city controller and mayor.

This is late-night TV joke territory, as in:

“Election officials were stunned in Los Angeles on Tuesday when 16% of the city’s voters cast ballots. They couldn’t believe that many people knew there was an election.”

You could spin it, I suppose, and say it’s not that we’re disengaged, we’re just laid back. A whole metropolis of Big Lebowskis, dude.

I think this provides some evidence for a point I’ve made before. Our problem is not that not enough people show up to vote. It’s that the franchise has been extended too far. If every single human being living in the city of Los Angeles were eligible to vote, I strongly suspect the rate of voter turnout would fall below 5%.

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