Primary races – particularly those that lack high-profile candidates or issues – typically draw low turnouts. But Los Angeles hasn’t seen a single-digit percentage turnout since 1983. Turnout in the previous city election that did not involve a mayoral race was 14 percent in 2001, following a trend of election turnouts in the 15 percent to 18 percent range. “It’s distressing and it’s counterintuitive,” said Councilman-elect Richard Alarc n, who swept to an easy victory in his return to the council in the 7th District. “This was not a weak field against me and we only had about a 9 percent turnout in my district. “You would have thought with all the emphasis on neighborhood councils and trying to get people involved that we would have had more people coming to vote. In some districts, the turnout was only 3 (percent) or 4 percent.” Councilman Tony Cardenas, who also won easy election to a second term in the council’s 6th District, said low turnout has implications beyond city elections. “Sure we have a low turnout, and people say part of the reason is that people are satisfied with their level of service or didn’t see competitive races, but it will come back to affect us,” Cardenas said. Los Angeles’ dismal voter turnout in Tuesday’s election was the lowest in more than two decades, confounding officials even as they try to reinvigorate citizen involvement. Preliminary results show just 128,516 ballots were cast to determine who will lead the nation’s second-largest city and school district – 7 percent of the city’s registered voters. While City Clerk Frank Martinez said final turnout figures will not be available until all ballots are formally verified, he estimates it will be less than 9 percent citywide. “We’ve had elections in the past where the turnout was 8 (percent) and 9 percent, and it is disturbing because we try to make it as easy as we can for voters,” Martinez said. “We have presidential races coming up and where are the candidates going to go? If it’s a choice where voters are concerned and involved compared to an area where they didn’t turn out, you tell me where they are going to campaign. It’s going to be where people are interested.” Part of the difficulty generating voter interest in this election was that five of the City Council races were uncontested. “Without a citywide race to drive attention and the lack of contested races, it’s hard to generate much public interest in the election,” Martinez said. “And there is so much going on in the world today, it’s hard to get (voters’) attention.” Councilman Bernard Parks, re-elected to a second term in the 8th Council District, said he was disappointed with the low turnout. “There are 97,000 registered voters in my district and only 6,400 chose to show up,” Parks said. “That means those 6,400 made a decision affecting 250,000 people living in my district.” And Martinez said the cost of the election remains the same regardless of turnout. More than $14 million was budgeted for Tuesday’s election and the May runoff, although the city will be reimbursed for the May runoff by the Los Angeles Community College District and Los Angeles Unified School District. “We still have the expenses of opening and staffing precincts around the city and the time involved is the same because we have to bring in ballots from all over the city and make sure the ballots are counted,” Martinez said. [email protected] (213) 978-0390 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!