2013 will be a big year for Los Angeles on the ballot -- two ballots, in fact. Elections are scheduled for March 5 (Primary) and May 21 (General) with half the city council seats up for grabs along with citywide positions, including mayor. Add to that some propositions, like the anticipated sales tax increase, and Angelenos will have plenty to think about. That is, Angelenos who decide to vote will have a lot to think about.
Only between 20 and 25 percent of voters turn out for elections in L.A. County, according to L.A. City Council member Jan Perry, who has introduced a motion aimed at developing alternative voting methods.
"This year, there are several initiatives on the ballot which will have a critical impact on the future of the City of Los Angeles," wrote Perry, who is also running for Mayor. "Given the importance of elections to our communities, we in local government have a responsibility to look at our voter turnout over the years and encourage members of our community to vote." She further noted that county turnout for the recent June Primary was 21.8 percent while other counties had turnout as high as 59 percent.
The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk is continuing to process ballots not counted election night, announcing in its bi-weekly update that 340,684 still remain.
The new count gave a slight jump -- 0.32 percent -- for Measure J, which now stands at 65.06 percent. If successful, it would take an already-existing sales tax dedicated to transportation funding set to expire in 2039 and extend it for another 30 years. 66.67 percent, a two-thirds vote, is needed for it to pass. Metro, which manages the sales tax money, has already concluded that Measure J has lost, but County Clerk Dean Logan has deemed it as a "close contest."
The next ballot update will be Tuesday.
County officials are still making their way through hundreds of thousands of uncounted ballots. Today in his bi-weekly update, L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan said there are approximately 521,710 ballots are left to be counted.
Logan has deemed five races to be "close contests," including the Measure J, which would extend an existing countywide sales tax by 30 years to fund transportation projects. But officials at Metro, which is charged with the special sales tax, have already conceded. "We are encouraged by this expression of confidence," said Metro CEO Art Leahy in an e-mail to the public last week.
Measure J currently stands with 64.74 percent, barely a change since the election; it needs approval by two-thirds, or 66.67 percent, of voters.
Uncounted Ballots by the Numbers:
- 792,658: The number of uncounted ballots after Election Day.
- 270,948: The number of ballots -- all of them vote by mail ballots -- counted so far, leaving 521,710 more to go.
- 325,687: The number of provisional ballots cast, none of which have been counted so far.
- 28: The number of days county officials have to continue counting ballots. That day is December 4, although November 30 is L.A. County's internal goal to complete the count.
The Los Angeles City Council tentatively voted today to place a half-cent sales tax increase before voters on the March citywide election ballot, a proposal that supporters say would help stave off layoffs of police officers and firefighters.
The council declined to place three other proposed tax increases on parking, property, and real estate sales before voters. All four proposals are intended to help close the city's structural budget deficit, which is projected to be $216 million in July and more than $300 million by 2014.
The vote on the sales tax increase championed by Council President Herb Wesson was 10-4. Because the vote wasn't unanimous, the council will consider it again in one week, with at least 10 votes necessary for passage.
If the proposal makes it onto the March 5 ballot, 50 percent-plus-one-vote would be needed for passage.
L.A. County officials have more uncounted ballots than they did four years ago. There are an estimated 792,658 ballots remaining to be processed, L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan announced Wednesday. Compare that to the estimated 566,000 remaining ballots after the November 2008 presidential election.
This year's remaining lot is made up mostly of vote-by-mail ballots dropped off at polls or received by mail on Election Day. The remaining were provisional. Early voting, which includes voting by mail, has been gaining popularity in California with participation hitting an all-time high at 65% during this year's June primary.
Early reports from the California Secretary of State's office seem to indicate voter turnout was lower on Tuesday than it was in the 2008 general election.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the number stood at 52.3 percent of registered voters, far below the 79.4 percent who turned out in 2008 to elect Barack Obama to his first term in office (see the chart below). That's despite a record high number of registered voters reported by the Secretary of State's office late last week.