November 4, 2009 - Low turnout plagues Election Day
Paper: Inland Valley Daily Bulletin ( Ontario, CA)
Title: Low turnout plagues Election Day
Date: November 4, 2009
Author: Canan Tasci, Staff Writer
Major races and issues on Election Day were seemingly as scarce as voters .
On Tuesday, only about one in 10 voters registered in San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties cast ballots.
San Bernardino County had a 9 percent turnout, of which only one-third of voters visited a polling place. The remaining voters cast absentee ballots.
Los Angeles County's turnout was about 12 percent.
The low turnout means a small number of citizens will wield great influence in city and school policies in the coming months and years.
"I've been working at the poll booths for 10 to 12 years," said Dev Cazier, supervisor of a polling station at Vineyard Junior High School in Rancho Cucamonga. "It's days like these where it's a sad to see that more people don't take advantage of what we have."
The highest turnout in the Inland Valley was for the race to fill three seats on the Claremont Unified School District board. Eighteen percent of registered voters participated in the race.
The Mt. San Antonio College Board of Trustees election drew 12 percent, while just 11 percent of voters took part in the Chaffey College board race.
Although poor election participation is not something new, Steve Lustro said he was struck by the low voter turnout in his race. Lustro ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Pomona Unified School District board.
Pomona Unified has 59,473 registered voters, but only 5,843 votes were cast.
"You have 10 percent of voters making the decision of the other 90 percent," Lustro said.
In an ideal world, an election should have voters who are engaged in and knowledgeable about the candidates and the issues, but part of the problem is there are so many elections, said John Pitney, professor of government at Claremont McKenna College.
"There is a certain amount of election fatigue, and it takes more work to get to know the candidates," Pitney said. "In the presidential races, people were shoving information at you if you like it or not. You can't help not know about (Barack) Obama or (John) McCain even if you tried."
In 2009, there were 15 elections in the Los Angeles County area, "and with 15 elections you're bound to get a low turnout in a lot of them," said Efrain Escobedo, executive liaison with the county Registrar -Recorder/County Clerk.
Tuesday's "turnout is not uncharacteristic. The real issue is these are important contests here and they affect our daily lives," Escobedo said.
"We need to think about what we all can due to make sure that we have greater participation for these kinds of elections and not just for the high profile and high money elections."
Staff Writer Monica Rodriguez contributed to this report.
Record Number: 13715625
(c) 2009 Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.