Even though democracy should represent the wishes of the majority, the new mayor will be elected by a minority that will at most equal 15% of the 1.8 million voters in Los Angeles.
The most optimistic studies predicted voter turnout close to 25% of the electorate for yesterday’s elections. This very low turnout became a reality throughout the day at polling stations. This could set a new record of abstentionism for a mayoral election without an incumbent on the ballot.
One explanation for this apathy indicates that in reality, voters are not enthusiastic about the fact that there is not much difference between the positions of Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti. However, for special interest groups that work with the local government, there were enough differences to throw tens of millions of dollars into both campaigns. Otherwise, how is such an investment explained?
The disconnect here between voters and economic interests is worrisome. But it is even worse when this money is used destructively to attack candidates with lies, innuendo and confusion, just like it happened with messages targeting Latino voters.
Electoral apathy reflects the impotence voters feel when they think their votes are irrelevant. It also results from being burned out. There was a presidential election in November, a local primary in March and then a general local election in May, with the corresponding candidates and ballot measures.
Now that the election has passed, alternatives to encourage voter participation should be explored. For example, the date could change, holding the election in November of an odd-numbered year.
It is essential to recover the attention of voters; they should assume the right to express their opinions and the duty to do so at the polls. If someone knows the value of voter participation, it is immigrants, who often come from countries where people die and kill to be able to exercise the right to vote.
Among the freedoms citizens have, there is the one not to vote in order to show dissatisfaction with the candidates and their proposals. However, inevitably, democracy gets devalued when the majority decides not to participate.