City Council Gets Report that Puts Local Voter Turnout at 81 percent

City Council gets a report stating local voter turnout was 81 percent for the last election. Photo by Nancy Lem

The South Pasadena City Council heard some surprising good news at its last meeting regarding voter turnout.

Most of the time, voter turnout is a dismal low number, like the 23 percent that turned out locally during the last general municipal election of 2015. Or in 2013, when it was 24 percent. Even when the numbers rose to 45 percent in the 2014 election for governor, it was still not a majority of voters casting their ballots.

That all changed for this last election when 81 percent of the 15,620 registered voters turned out at the ballot box.

“According to the official results, there were 15,620 registered voters and of those, 12,652 cast their ballots,” Marc Donohue, So Pas City Clerk, said an email to The Review. 

Donohue made the announcement during the council’s Dec. 5 meeting, which prompted those in attendance to erupt into a lengthy and loud applause.

Donohue listed the voter turnout in neighboring cities as well to give the council a perspective on the voter numbers.

He said that Alhambra had a voter turnout of 54.26 percent, Pasadena at 67.32 percent, Arcadia at 57.05 percent, San Marino at 66.94 percent, Temple City at 57.79 percent, Monterey Park at 53.09 percent, Rosemead at 47.87 percent, San Gabriel at 56.56 percent and Monrovia at 67.59 percent.

“South Pasadena is at 81 percent,” Donohue told the City Council. “The last time we had a turnout this high was November of 2008 when President Obama was elected with 89 percent.”

South Pasadenans had several things on the ballot that caught their attention this past November. The race for two City Council seats was being held for the first time in the city’s history by districts instead of by a citywide vote. The winners of a citywide vote are chosen by the most numbers and all registered voters can cast a ballot. Not so with districts. Only the number of registered voters in each district are allowed to vote. So, the number of votes goes from about 16,000 to about 3,000, depending on the district.

The city was forced into district-voting because of the threat of costly litigation that claimed voters rights were being violated. Officials say there are several lawsuits now in the courts that could reverse that situation.

Furthermore, the Nov. 6 election had Measure N, the initiative that sought to repeal the Utility Users Tax, which brought about 3.4 million into the city. That measure went down to a resounding defeat by nearly 80 percent.

And finally, the South Pasadena Unified School District had three seats open on its School Board. All in all, much to vote on and South Pasadena residents took advantage of the ballot box.

Donohue was not quite done with his voter turnout report. He had one more thing to say.

“Also, I just confirmed before the meeting that South Pasadena had the highest voter turnout percentage of any incorporated city in Los Angeles County,” he said.