California... land of sunshine, beaches, Hollywood stars and home of a mini DC. The Golden State has not only produced two memorable presidents -- Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan -- but two recent colorful governors as well in Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown.
So how can you explain a dismal voter turnout for the June presidential primary which saw the lowest voter turnout in 75 years in Sacramento County -- home of the state Capitol? Only 35 percent of voters handed in their ballots.
"I think they're really annoyed with all things government and politicians," said Barbara O'Connor, professor emeritus of Government and Media Studies at Sacramento State University. "The polls show small respect for the politicians."
A newly released report from The Atlantic supports that. It says Americans have less faith in Washington and Wall Street. More than two-thirds of Americans believe the U.S. economy is on the wrong track, and half think the economic system is unfair to the middle and working class.
Remember when you used to vote every four years for president? It was something you actually looked forward to. California has had so many special and regular elections (plus a recall) in the past decade that voters are being asked to go the polls every year. And they're tired of it. It just isn't special or unique anymore. Plus, there is the annoyance of yearly elections.
"Robo calls during dinner, emails all the time so you just start deleting them," O'Connor said. "Slate mailers are much harder to understand when you have a long list of candidates."
California now has a new two-tier system where the top two vote-getters advance to the general election, which means you can have a Republican versus Republican instead of a Democrat. Couple that with Secretary of State Debra Bowen already qualifying 12 ballot initiatives for November so far. Who has time to study all the propositions?
But an apathetic voter doesn't necessarily mean a person is uncaring all around. The Atlantic survey shows family, schools and friends remain the greatest influence on Americans. California has a high rate of volunteers who want to help any way they can at food banks, schools, parks, etc. They just don't have faith in government.
"Couple that with bad economic times and lots of fear, and it doesn't make one wanting to turn out and vote a real high priority,' O'Connor said.
The Secretary of State has until July 13 to certify the vote of the June 5 primary. So far, it looks like voter turnout statewide was about 35 percent -- the lowest in decades.
Will it be better for the presidential race in November? For the most populous state in the U.S. with 17.5 million registered voters, we can only hope so.
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