The LA County Final Vote Is Official And Fewer Voters Turned Out Than Last Midterm Election
Officials have spent almost every day since Nov. 8 counting and processing the hundreds of thousands of ballots mailed in or dropped off. And now, the final vote count is finally known.
In Los Angeles County, the totals show nearly 44% of registered voters cast their ballots, 13% lower than the percentage of voters who turned out in the last midterm elections in 2018.
Four years ago, turnout in L.A. County was 57% (and 64.5% statewide turnout amongregistered voters). A few things that were different back then? Californians were voting to fill an open seat for governor, as well as voice their opinions on then-President Trump in a midterm election that was seen as a referendum on the former president.
“We didn't have, by all accounts, a competitive governor's race and in a midterm, the top of the ticket is a gubernatorial race, and that typically drives not all turnout, but a lot of turnout,” said Mindy Romero, director of USC’s Center for Inclusive Democracy.
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Still, she says the drop in turnout from 2018 is disappointing.
“We've had higher turnout these last few years. And I think many were expecting that that kind of momentum and interest would continue into 2022,” Romero said. “I think it did for a lot of voters. But clearly, the numbers are saying that we lost some of that interest in saliency.”
80% Voted By Mail
The vast majority of Los Angeles County voters cast their ballots by mail — which is why it took so long to count and certify the results. Ballots had days after Election Day to arrive by the postal service. Keep in mind, L.A. County has a massive population and checking ballots and signatures is a lengthy process in a county that size.
Here’s what we know about the final vote total in L.A. County:
- 5,627,796 registered voters
- 2,456,701 ballots were counted and processed
- 80% returned their vote-by-mail ballots
- 20% voted in person
- In the June 7 primary, a total of 1,620,593 votes were cast and counted — a turnout of about 28% of registered voters. 85% voted by mail.
- In the 2020 general election (which included Trump vs Biden) a total of 4,338,191 votes were cast — a turnout of 76% turnout of registered voters. 79% voted by mail.
- In the 2018 midterm elections, 3,023,417 votes were cast and counted — a turnout of 57 percent of registered voters. 45% voted by mail.
Why L.A. Mayoral Race Saw Improved Turnout
While turnout in L.A. County was lower this year than the last midterm elections, turnout for the mayor’s race within the city of Los Angeles — 44% — hasn’t been this high since 1993.
City municipal elections have had dismal turnout in recent years. Only 23% of registered voters cast ballots the last time the city had an open seat for mayor in 2013. But this year was the first time the mayoral race was scheduled for an even-numbered year, which drives out more voters in general.
As for 2024, Romero says votes shouldn’t be taken for granted and there needs to be more outreach efforts to encourage people to participate.
“To me, it’s almost never a story about voters being apathetic or not caring," Romero said. "It's a story of there are real barriers to participation, especially in a county like L.A. with such large communities that are historically underrepresented. And it just is a lot of work to make the case understandably so for why voting matters, for why their vote is relevant.”