By Ada Ciuca
Are you one of 88.55% of eligible Los Angeles voters that chose not to exercise their right to vote in the March 7 election? Don’t fret — there’s no shaming involved here. Pour yourself some tea and stay awhile, as we update you on the new measures going into effect and 5 reasons why you shouldn’t flake out of your civic duties next time!
While the election results won’t be officially certified by the L.A. county registrar until March 31st, only close calls might be affected by the votes that are still to be counted. Development, homelessness services, and marijuana regulations were all the rage for this year’s primary. See for yourself:
Measure S: A 2-year development moratorium on large-scale development that increases development density.
Majority vote: NO (68.8%)
Measure H: A quarter-cent sales tax increase in LA County used to fund programs for the homeless.
Majority vote: YES (67.4%)
Measure M: Enactment of a city council ordinance to regulate and tax marijuana.
Majority vote: YES (79.4%)
Measure N: Enactment of a citizen initiative to regulate and tax marijuana.
Majority vote: NO (63.7%)
Satisfied with these outcomes? Keep voting. Not satisfied with these outcomes? Continue voting, because…
1. Low voter turnout is dangerous.
With an estimated 11.45% voter turnout for this year’s primaries, Los Angeles is notorious for its disengagement on off-year elections. According to the Los Angeles Times, 2013’s race brought out 21% of registered voters, and 2009 came in with 18% of voters — a ‘record low.’ These numbers show that a minority of county members are deciding the next four years for everyone. With such little interest from the general public, those who do vote are going to be the most emotionally attached activists; and while they’re likely to be well-informed on the issue, their pathos often overrides their logic. We’re not saying passion’s a bad thing — but having all walks of life represented brings about a consensus around the results. Let’s make sure a majority of people have a say in local politics. Otherwise we’re giving a small percentage of folks a whole lot of power…
2. Shaping local politics is an achievable goal.
We hear it time and time again: your vote matters. And at the end of a long presidential election cycle, where everything is in the hands of the electoral college, we may not believe it. Cue to local elections — where results have direct, more immediate effects on constituents; and where low voter turnout and an electoral college absence mean that every vote counts. Sure, to vote on local issues may require a bit of extra research as information is not as readily available as on the national scale, but once our cities will be represented by people whose moral fabrics mirror their own, it will all be worth it.
3. If you don’t vote, you can’t complain about election outcomes.
As history (both old and recent) has it, human nature is hooked on complaining. More than ever, social media gives the opportunity of instant complaint gratification and an audience community. From the national scale of our presidential election, to the international scale of Brexit, complaining without involvement happens everywhere. There’s a certain satisfaction that comes with the ability to complain as someone who has done their homework on each issue. Why miss out on all the fun?
4. Be a voice for your generation.
Each generation has its stereotypes, but with headlines like ‘When it Comes to Politics, Do Millennials Care About Anything?’ and ‘Why Don’t Millennials Vote?’ the youngest generation eligible to vote is constantly receiving the short end of the stick. Activism, both in the streets and on social media, are defining characteristics of our generation, but voting is the purest form of activism available to all eligible parties. Go out and choose measures and representatives that align with your generation’s values. Schedule your election day hangouts at polling stations…and then hit the bar for a well-deserved drink because politics are exhausting.
5. The worst that could happen is no change.
No one comes back from a workout regretting that they were active. No one comes back from an election regretting that they were politically involved. Although politics are black and white in that your candidate either wins or loses, your presence at the polling station can only make things better. Whether or not you vote, a decision will still be made and you should have a say — however small — in that. If you want to change the political landscape, get out and vote! The worst that could happen is things staying the same — and you won’t have any regrets about not trying your best to change things for the better.
Ada is a writer and marketing coordinator for Consensus Inc. Follow along and experience #ConsensusCulture.