Preliminary numbers show just under 18 percent of the people registered to vote in Sacramento County actually voted - an historical low. Kim Nalder is a professor of government at Sacramento State. On Capital Public Radio's Insight with Beth Ruyak today, Nalder attributed the low voter turnout to a lack of races, or issues on the ballot, that brought people out.
"There wasn't a top of the ticket race and that's really what drives turnout. We see in presidential races you get much bigger turnout than you do in primaries or during midterm elections. And so, Jerry Brown didn't even really campaign. There wasn't much campaign information out there - the political TV ads were sparse."
Nalder also points out that although campaign mailers were sent out, they were targeted to households that already vote - and so a lot of people were unaware that there was an election.
Meanwhile, how can a non-candidate, who's been indicted on federal corruption charges, get 10 percent of the statewide vote in California? Democratic Senator Leland Yee withdrew his candidacy for Secretary of State after he was arrested in March. Yee still managed to come in third place behind Democratic State Senator Alex Padilla and Republican Pete Peterson.
"I just think that's a matter of name recognition," says Nalder. "He's someone who's been around as a politician for a long time and the information level during this race seems to be low. There was no campaign saying 'don't vote for this guy he's not on the ballot.'"
Yee's case highlighted his rivals' call for political reform, including campaign fundraising reforms and more disclosure. Padilla and Peterson will face off in November to replace termed-out Democratic incumbent Debra Bowen as the state's chief elections and campaign finance officer.
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