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81% of Registered Pasadena Voters Cast Ballots in November Election

Turnout shot up after local elections were moved to correspond with state’s

Published on Monday, February 22, 2021 | 1:54 pm

More than 81% of Pasadena’s registered voters cast ballots in November’s General Election, according to the Los Angeles County Registrar/County Clerk’s Office.

All told, 74,290 of 91,498 registered voters, or 81.18%, cast ballots.

According to a report by California Common Cause, cities that made the move to align local elections with the state’s election schedule tripled voter turnout.

One of the greatest barometers for civic engagement in American politics is voter turnout,” said Valverde Meneses, who authored the report. “When it comes to turnout, timing is everything.”

The high turnout could also be related to the polarizing presidential election between former President Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

The city moved its elections to correspond with state elections in compliance with the California Voters Participation Act (CVPA). Cities complied with the call to move local elections, which was designed to increase voter turnout. As a result of the change, the city no longer conducts its own elections. 

In 2015, California Common Cause was a lead supporter of the CVPA, or Senate Bill 415, which sought to fight the persistent problem of very low voter turnout in critically important local elections, which often happened on off-cycle dates.

The bill mandated that cities move their municipal elections to statewide election dates if their elections saw voter turnout that was 25 percent or lower than the voter turnout for the previous four statewide general elections. 

Former Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law in September 2015. Prior research has found that cities and counties in California experience a significant increase in voter turnout when local elections are moved from off-cycle to on-cycle, but no research to this point has examined the impact of SB 415.

Several charter cities like Pasadena claimed their charters gave them the right to control their own elections. Although state officials disagreed, Redondo Beach later won a lawsuit against the state affirming its rights to control its elections. In March, an appeals court upheld the ruling.

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