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A California Shocker: 75% declined to vote - good news for Schwarzenegger

By       Message Burton H. Wolfe     Permalink
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Newly released and mostly unreported statistics from the California Secretary of State show that more than 75 percent of the state's residents who are eligible to vote stayed away from the polls in the June 2006 primary and less than 35 percent of registered voters cast a vote. By contrast, in the peak year for primary voting in California, 1976, 45 percent of the eligible voters and 72 percent of the registered voters went to the polls.

The primary was not just about the governorship; other offices and propositions were on the ballot. But Californians were not interested enough to bother voting. For Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the disinterest in voting may well mean re-election in November, regardless of the polls showing majority disapproval of his policies. It is a well known principle that if a challenger does not get out the vote, the incumbent wins.

The disinterest in and lack of voting stem from a variety of factors that are making the dual concepts of popular election and democracy a farce. To begin with, there has been a massive influx into California of Mexicans and Asians who do not speak English at all or who speak it poorly, are not citizens, and are not eligible to vote. Eligible Republicans are disgusted with Schwarzenegger's adopting policies that many Republicans, especially the Christian Anti-fundamentalists (their true name), abominate: for example, full steam ahead on stem cell research. On the other hand, many Democrats are fed up with California Democrats who have been bought by big corporations and follow socio-economic policies that are hardly distinguishable from those of their Republican colleagues.

Turning to Californians eligible to and registered to vote, and asking them why they are not bothering to vote (as this writer has), you find that they do not like the candidates for office, do not feel that those candidates represent them or even care about them, see the ballot propositions as weak or irrelevant, and believe that no real solutions to social problems are being presented. Typical of the attitude, before election day when I asked a dark-skinned young man who exercises at the same YMCA where I take my workouts how he would cast his vote for governor and on key issues, he replied: "Ain't gonna vote." I asked him why not. "Ain't nobody up there in Sacramento represents me."

I asked a white Democrat intellectual who always votes which of the two white candidates offered by the Democratic Party for governor would be his choice. "The Democratic Party expects me to vote for either of those clowns?" he replied with his own question. "Forget it. This election day I'm staying home."

Even in the two counties where the most intense political ferment is found, Los Angeles and San Francisco, the disinterest was overwhelming. In Los Angeles County, where there were 5,691,552 eligible voters, only 3,839,483 even registered to vote: 1,929,931 Democrats; 1,023,730 Republicans; and a much lesser number of American Independents, Greens, Libertarians, and Peace and Freedoms. But the combined total of persons who actually did vote was 1,050,076 18.45 percent of eligible voters and 27.35 percent of registered voters. In San Francisco, with 575,791 eligible voters and 421,094 registered voters, the vote total was 156,272 27.14 percent of eligible voters and 37.11 percent of registered voters. That statistic is especially bad news for Democrats, because 421,094 registered as Democrats, while only 47,062 registered as Republicans.

All of this means that true democracy is dead in California, and unless California Democrats decide they had better vote in November even though they do not like the choices, Schwarzenegger once again will be elected governor.

 

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