California Special State Senate Election Has Turnout of Approximately 25% of Registered Voters

On January 8, California held a special election to fill the vacant State Senate seat, 4th district. All precincts have reported, although not all provisional and absentee ballots have been counted. So far, the vote total is: Republican Jim Nielsen 87,669; Democrat Michael Harrington 43,866. No one else appeared on the ballot, and write-ins are not allowed. Those two vote totals add up to only 131,535. Yet the district had 532,036 registered voters as of the late October 2012 tally.

Poor turnout is normal for special elections held in isolation from other important elections.


California Special State Senate Election Has Turnout of Approximately 25% of Registered Voters — No Comments

  1. This is yet another reason why a strict parliamentary democracy is a superior system. If a seat becomes vacant for whatever reason, then the party simply selects the next candidate on its list to fill it. There is no added cost of holding a special election that few care about and bother to participate in — saves taxpayer money and reduces needless political activity.

  2. The special election was caused by California’s inexcusable practice of having holdover senators even though districts were changed.

    Fully 10% of Californians have no senator representing them (they lived in an odd-numbered district in 2010, but were place in an even-numbered district in 2012, and thus had no election in either State.

    Another 10% of the population has two senators (one elected in 2010 from an even-numbered district, and one elected in 2012 from an odd-numbered district).

    Had all senate districts been contested in 2012, then SD-4 (new boundaries) would have elected its senator in the June primary and November general election, using the Top 2 Open Primary.

    Instead, Senator Doug La Malfa resigned from his SD-4 (old boundaries) position after finishing first in the June 2012 primary in CD-1. This triggered a special election in November 2012 using the old boundaries, but the new Top 2 election system. Jim Nielsen narrowly missed a majority (49.8%), which triggered the January 8 runoff.

    Voters in Siskiyou and Shasta counties, and western Nevada and Placer counties were able to vote for two senators last November – SD-1 (new boundaries) and SD-4 (old boundaries).

  3. #1 Turnout for this particular senate seat was up 14% from the previous general election.

    Incidentally, the special election had 1 Democrat, 2 Republicans, and 3 non-partisan candidates. In 2010, using the old partisan primary system, there was 1 Democrat, and 2 Republicans.

  4. Jim Riley

    For the period of the prior ten years the numbered Senate Districts were off. They did not comply with
    a Constitutional Numbering systems. I called that to
    the commission and now the current districts numbers
    are constitutional.
    Two more special elections under the old uncostitutional
    Senate District numbers, viz., 32 and 40 are now up for
    election. The file closing date is January 18, 2013.

    Sincerely Mark Seidenberg, Vice Chairman, American Independent Party of California

  5. #4 Had all senate seats been up for election in 2012, then Senators Negrete McLeod and Vargas would have had to decide whether to run for Congress or Senate, and there would be no need to hold a special election.

    The terms “deferred” and “accelerated” are euphemisms for “disenfranchised” and “overenfranchised”

    Q. What does it mean if I live in “deferred” area.

    A. It means that you were denied the right to elect your senator.

    Under terms of the 14th Amendment, California’s representation in the US House of Representatives should be reduced to 47 members.

    ps Senate District 4 is north of Senate District 3.

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