Poll voting dropped by 58% in Lancaster CA local election in 2012

Imagine going to sleep one night and waking up the next morning and 58% of your community vanished. You walk outside as you do every morning and there’s half the traffic, half the kids at the bus stops, etc. If this happened to any community there would be headlines for months trying to figure out where the people went.

This is exactly what happened to the voting community of Lancaster. In 2010, there were 6,152 people who went to the polls. Then in 2012 only 2,554 people returned. That is a 58% decrease in turnout. The first thing I thought when I discovered this anomaly was maybe everyone got savvy and started to mail in their absentee ballots, but that wasn’t the case either. In 2010, there were 7,035 absentee ballots and in 2012 there were 6,550, so there was a decrease as well. So the question remains, why did 58% of the community stop voting altogether?

The nation’s voter turnout between 2006 and 2012 during midterms only fluctuates by an average of +/- 3 percent and about +/-5% during Presidential years.[1] So the decrease cannot be attributed to just an overall decrease of the nation’s voter turnout. The state’s voter turnout has declined steadily but in no year took a hit as big as Lancaster. The state primary turnout was 33.3% in 2010 and 33.1% in 2012.[2]

Many things can contribute to low voter turnout. One example would be the off-cycle election. “By scheduling local elections to occur on the dates of statewide general or primary elections (so-called concurrent or on-cycle elections), localities make it easier for voters participating in the statewide election to vote in local contests as well. In short, participation in local elections depends critically on the timing of those elections.”[3] If you can think of any other reasons that would cause a decrease in voter turnout and that are unique to Lancaster, CA, please feel free to leave a comment about it below.






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