Voter Turnout In West Hollywood Increased by Almost 55% With On-Cycle Election Switch

Moving the City Council election to coincide with the presidential election resulted into a near 55% increase in voter turnout in West Hollywood, according to a new report.

West Hollywood traditionally saw only about 20% of registered voters turning out for local elections held in March of odd numbered years. But with the state-mandated move to coincide with November elections, that number almost tripled.

November’s City Council election which saw newcomers Sepi Shyne and John Erickson oust incumbents John Heilman and John Duran had the highest voter turnout since the Nov. 1984 election for cityhood.

In fact, Shyne won her seat receiving over 8,000 votes. Prior to that when the City Council elections were held in March, the winner usually received about 3,000 votes.

It wasn’t just West Hollywood which saw an uptick in voter turnout. Average voter turnout tripled in 35 cities in Los Angeles County.

This came about following a 2015 state law that mandated local elections be moved to days of national or state elections if a city’s voter turnout was 25% or lower than the previous four statewide elections, according to a study released Monday.

The report, released by the nonprofit California Common Cause, examined elections between 2012 and 2020, finding that 54 California cities that moved from off-cycle elections in 2016, 2018 and 2020 had significant voter turnout increases.

For cities in Los Angeles County, registered voter turnout increased by:

  • 60.4% in Agoura Hills.
  • 42.2% in Artesia.
  • 46.9% in Baldwin Park.
  • 40.5% in Bell Gardens.
  • 62.7% in Bellflower.
  • 61.8% in Beverly Hills.
  • 64.6% in Burbank.
  • 53.5% in Calabasas.
  • 44.1% in Carson.
  • 55.4% in Claremont.
  • 36.7% in Cudahy.
  • 57.6% in Culver City.
  • 57% in Diamond Bar.
  • 45.3% in El Monte.
  • 43.3% in Hawaiian Gardens.
  • 53.7% in Hawthorne.
  • 46.7% in La Puente.
  • 54.4% in Lawndale.
  • 49.9% in Lomita.
  • 47% in Lynwood.
  • 42.9% in Malibu.
  • 59.1% in Manhattan Beach.
  • 49.3% in Montebello.
  • 61.3% in Palos Verdes Estates.
  • 54.6% in Pico Rivera.
  • 59.6% in Rancho Palos Verdes.
  • 43.6% in Rolling Hills.
  • 47.4% in San Fernando.
  • 57.2% in Santa Clarita.
  • 46.7 in Santa Fe Springs.
  • 59.1% in Signal Hill.
  • 56.3% in South El Monte.
  • 45% in Walnut.
  • 54.9% in West Hollywood.
  • 58.1% in Westlake Village.

Cities across California and in Los Angeles County that “are home to historically underrepresented communities saw a dramatic increase in voter turnout when they switched from off-cycle election to an on-cycle election,” according to the report by authors Alvin Valverde Meneses and Eric Spencer with the nonprofit that seeks to expand democratic participation.

Pico Rivera, Diamond Bar and San Fernando previously had local turnout rates under 16%, but each had a substantial increase in voter turnout after the cities switched to on-cycle elections.

On average, California cities’ previous elections had 25.54% registered voter turnout during off-cycle elections. After the switch, registered voter turnout increased to about 75.81%, according to Common Cause.

“There are other variables that may play a role in voter participation in California elections, including changes in voter registration, laws, competitive races and demographic changes,” according to the report. “Although other variables could impact voter turnout, the raw data from these 54 cities indicates a dramatic increase in voter turnout in municipal elections when those elections are moved from off-cycle to on-cycle.”

California Common Cause recommended, based on their findings, that cities that have not yet moved from off-cycle to on-cycle elections, soon switch over.

“Greater turnout makes for a stronger democracy,” the report stated.

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