Dan Walters: low turnout results in government that is not representative of the people

5 Nov

Sac Bee columnist Dan Walters explains here how low voter turnout affects our political scene.


Walters says we set a record for low turnout in June – 25 percent. He then predicted that less than 50 percent would turn out for yesterday’s election. Candace Grubbs warned us too – and they were right, it looks like less than 50 percent turned out.

When I saw the numbers on our city council election last night, I knew right away something was weird. Last night they were reporting totals for the leading candidates around 5,000 votes a piece, when in past, the top candidates have pulled in more than 10,000 votes each. In 2010 the losers were getting more than 5,000 votes – Bob Evans lost with over 10,000 votes. And there were more candidates to spread the votes between in 2010, but they still came out with more votes. That’s because over 20,000 more people voted in 2010.  

Another interesting factor is the number of “blank” and “under” votes, defined here:

From Florida State Division of Elections:

Under Votes: If total votes is less than or equal to the number to vote for, then subtract he total votes
from the number to vote for. If the system counts blank votes (as defined below) then under votes are
recorded only when there is a vote for more than one contest and at least one vote is cast but les than
the required number to vote for.

Blank Votes (optional): If there is no vote selection at all for a contest, then it is counted as one blank

Apparently, just over 8 percent of the people who bothered to vote at all filled in less than the three requested bubbles for Chico city council. I didn’t vote for any of the candidates, but I wrote in Joe Montes, so I don’t know whether I counted as an “under” or a “blank”. This was my “protest” vote, and I know they heard it. That’s a pretty sad  turnout, hardly an endorsement of the people. I hate to do the math – how much did Coolidge spend per vote? 

At one point Coolidge tried to take me to task for not endorsing him, asking me what I thought he was up to:

“I know you like to think we all have dreams of power, but really, seriously? what is this tremendous power? The $400 a month?? Are all the past council members in Chico rich and powerful and living in big homes because of their time on the council. Andre Grieco? Shelton Enochs?  Ronald Stewart? James Evans? Maragaret Worley?

Really?? Is this the fortune 500 of Chico? Are they living in Mansions off Keifer Road? Have you ever even heard of them in the last five years?? Please stop, it is so wrong to pretend everyone who wants to make their town better is evil…”

Andrew, your actions would be suspicious to anyone. You make fun of me for wondering – why would you spend nearly $30,000 (and that’s the most recent total) to get a $400/month job? Helloooo?  This election has made it clear – Chico City Council is now closed to the average citizen/taxpayer, only the high-rollers can run for this local position.

Like Dan Walters said, our lives are being run by wealthy white men over 50 years of age. 

Butte County Election Results for last night 


Number of Precincts   38  
Precincts Reporting   38 100.0 %
Vote For   3  
Times Counted   16452/44289 37.1 %
Total Votes   44071  
Times Blank Voted   704  
Times Over Voted   23  
Number Of Under Votes   3104  

ANDREW COOLIDGE   8887 20.17%
MARK SORENSEN   8280 18.79%
REANETTE FILLMER   7899 17.92%
LUPE ARIM-LAW   6251 14.18%
FOROUGH MOLINA   5839 13.25%
SCOTT GRUENDL   5535 12.56%
RODNEY WILLIS   1299 2.95%
Write-in Votes   81 0.18%

Butte County Election Results 2010:

Number of Precincts   42  
Precincts Reporting   42 100.0 %
Vote For   3  
Total Votes   68907  
Times Blank Voted   2282  
Times Over Voted   14  
Number Of Under Votes   9126  

MARK SORENSEN   13225 19.19%
SCOTT GRUENDL   10717 15.55%
MARY FLYNN   10448 15.16%
BOB EVANS   10320 14.98%
MARK HERRERA   9154 13.28%
BOB KROMER   9005 13.07%
QUENTIN COLGAN   2599 3.77%
BRAHAMA D. SHARMA   1686 2.45%
DAVE DONNAN   1635 2.37%
Write-in Votes   118 0.17%

2 Responses to “Dan Walters: low turnout results in government that is not representative of the people”

  1. Bob Holland November 5, 2014 at 9:55 am #

    It is startling to see how much you have to say about things that you know so little about. The local returns are only slightly lower than 4 years ago at this point in the counting process. There are still 3000-4000 ballots to be counted. Those consist of the thousand of vote by mail ballots dropped off at polling places on Election Day, plus almost a thousand provisional ballots. The ending vote numbers will be in line with 4 years ago, only slightly lower. You have better odds of being struck by lightning today than those ballots have of changing the top 3 with such a lead.

    • Juanita Sumner November 5, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

      I don’t get your point, except to be insulting. I’m saying, people didn’t turn out, turnout was horrible, I posted the statistics right in front of you. Those are from Butte County – look at the line “total votes” – from 68,000+ in 2010 to 44,000+ last night. With 100% of precincts reporting.

      I get so sick and tired of you university types acting as though if we don’t have capital letters behind our name we’re not allowed to have a conversation. Oh, excuse me, I got a pot of fairy shrimp on the stove right now…why don’t you pick up a rake and run through a meadow in a thunder storm.

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