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Low Voter Turnout Expected In Elections

Some say combining the local elections with those of the governor and president would increase voter turnout. ATVN's Emily Thornburg reports. 

Los Angeles voters headed to the polls Tuesday to vote on city council and school board members as well as two city charter amendments.

Angela Kahn knew who she was voting for because her district wasn't very competitive. 

"This wasn't a particularly controversial election, but you still have to vote ," Kahn said. 

For other voters it was simply about taking part in their civic duty. 

" I vote in every election. I just feel fortunate that I'm allowed to vote because there are a lot of people in the world who still don't have that right," Karianne Flaathen said. 

" I just feel that it is my obligaton, my duty to vote," Angel Bobis. 

According to California Common Cause , a non-profit focused on public participation, voter turnout has gone down 14 percent in Los Angeles since 1997.

In the 2013 Los Angeles mayoral election only 23 percent of LA registered voters casted ballots. This is one reason Los Angeles Ethics Committee Vice President, Jessica Levison doesn't have high hopes for this election.

" I think we're going to see lower than 23 percent for sure this time around," Levinson said. 

Levinson said this could have something to do with the items on the ballot. 

" These frankly aren't hot button issues to a lot of people," said Levinson. 

The city charter amendments on the ballot  would consolidate city, state, and federal elections which could potentially increase voter turnout.

Levinson said because of her position on the LA Ethics Committee she can't take a stance on the amendments, but explained how the amendments could impact voter turnout either way.

" There are more people who show up to federal and state elections so if you consolidate the elections you'll get more people," Levinson said. 

 On the other hand Levinson said it could possibly affect how informed voters are of all the items on the ballot.

" Critics say this will actually increase special interest influence because local candidates will have to spend more time fundraising," Levinson said. 

The city began efforts to increase voter turnout before people headed to the polls this time around. Some efforts included teaming up with 24 community-based organizatons. 

Julio Esperias a media specialist at the City Clerk's Election Divison said outreach efforts also included taking part in 165 events to encourge people to register and volunteer as poll workers.

" You see how successful these efforts are in terms of overall worker recruitment. So throughout the city of LA there's over 6,000 poll workers that will be working this election," Esperias said. 

The city also offered multilingual services in 11 languages and translation of sample ballots. 

Dan Schnur,executive director of the Unruh Institute of Politics, joined us in-studio to weigh in on what low voter turnout means in Los Angeles and whow the two city charter amendments could affect turnout. 

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