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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Jerome Cleary
Jerome Cleary
4 days ago

And yet still we have a lot of really bad crime. Most people have the app “Citizen” and we all can now see all day and all night long how dangerous our city has become. Our city spends over $20 million a year for our Sheriff’s Department and many residents have told me over and over again they are afraid to be out on our streets and sidewalks at night.

Manny
Manny
4 days ago
Reply to  Jerome Cleary

There’s a lot of bad behavior going on for sure. Much of it was happening before the advent of the Citizen App or the hysterical NextDoor. But yes, there’s a lot of twisted aggression that I’ve not seen before. I’d say it could be worse if it weren’t for what that $20 million buys.

Jerome Cleary
Jerome Cleary
3 days ago
Reply to  Manny

But our city was not like this before over a decade ago where residents are now afraid to go out after dark now.

Todd B.
Todd B.
5 days ago

I thought there were too many candidates and that the vote would so split that the familiar names would win again. I was wrong. I’m heartened to see increased voter participation, even if they were uninformed about the candidates and their positions. And good to see new faces and new ideas on Council. It was troubling that so few votes could pick council members in the past. Palm Springs, a city of just 48k permanent residents, split (or was forced to split) into council districts in order to bring better representation to each area of the city. It’s not that… Read more »

Vigilent
Vigilent
4 days ago
Reply to  Todd B.

Exactly.

That should make the council members more accountable directly to their constituents in specific districts where they would have less time to endorse foolish projects cooked up by staff busywork.

It is time for West Hollywood to dedicate themselves to serious governance rather than popularity contests and pet projects designed to advance their individual resumes and determine which flagstone to step on next.

Manny
Manny
4 days ago
Reply to  Todd B.

West Hollywood is a General Law City, Palm Springs is a Charter City. The guy going around suing cities and strong arming them into forming districts does not have a case with General Law Cities.

Vigilent
Vigilent
4 days ago
Reply to  Manny

Thank you, interesting to know.

David Reid
David Reid
7 days ago

Duran Duran?

Jonathan H. Dowling
Jonathan H. Dowling
7 days ago

This is a much needed change to how West Hollywood city elections were previously conducted. I always found it troubling that city council members were elected to represent a city of over 36,000 people with so few votes. Still, with the ability to have 10 or 15 candidates run for two open seats; the risk of having individuals manipulate election outcomes by having “spoiler” candidates run, exists. To fully “democratize” our city elections, West Hollywood should either create 5 Councilmanic Districts allowing people to directly elect their representatives, or implement a runoff system where the top four vote getters compete… Read more »

Joshua88
Joshua88
7 days ago

Typo: Duran and Heilman, not Duran doubled.

James F. Mills
Admin
6 days ago
Reply to  Joshua88

Oops. Thanks for catching that. It’s been corrected.

Jay
Jay
7 days ago

Hi James-

It seems like Shawn and Ted have a point?

Shawn
Shawn
7 days ago

Isn’t an increase from 20% to 55% a 175% increase?

I think the article should say that voter turnout “increased to 55%” and not “increased by 55%”.

Ted Green
Ted Green
7 days ago
Reply to  Shawn

“Voter participation increased from 20% to 75%” is the proper way to state it.

Art
Art
6 days ago
Reply to  Ted Green

Indeed!

Jim Nasium
Jim Nasium
7 days ago

Big mistake. It was never a good idea to move our local elections to November where unsuspecting, uninformed voters cast a ballot for a council they never knew they had or a city they never knew they lived in. Add to that, mail-ballots-for-all, a feverish turnout and desire to get rid of Trump and you have thousands of people randomly choosing a name or a face that they know nothing about. Oh well, that’s Weho democracy at work during a pandemic in November.

Joshua88
Joshua88
7 days ago
Reply to  Jim Nasium

Give it some time.

David Reid
David Reid
7 days ago
Reply to  Jim Nasium

It broke up the cabal.

Art
Art
6 days ago
Reply to  Jim Nasium

Your response offers no proof that we voted randomly. Pure speculation.

Jim Nasium
Jim Nasium
6 days ago
Reply to  Art

These are comments not a science paper. Everything is speculation and opinion, including your comment. Just something to think about.

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