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CA Voters, Where Ya At? 

August 31, 2022

California’s first statewide election of the year has come and gone – and according to the voter turnout, most Californians were either unaware of the election or chose to sit it out entirely.

There are 21.9 million registered voters in California and only 33 percent showed up to vote in the June 7, 2022 primary election. Turnout was expected to be low, but these figures are very surprising when compared to the previous election in 2020 where voter turnout was above 80%. 

Over the years, California has made voting more accessible to increase voter turnout and provide safe alternatives to vote during the pandemic through policies such as universal vote-by-mail, the creation of vote centers, same-day voter registration, and more. When looking at historical data, we see proof that these policies have effectively increased voter turnout. For example, comparing the June 2022 primary election results to the last midterm primary election, held in 2018, despite turnout being low its actually increased overtime. 

This progress means we are moving in the right direction; although voter turnout is nowhere near where we need it to be to ensure that California truly has a government that reflects the will of the people. As you’ll see in the chart below, only seven out of California’s 58 counties had voter turnout exceed 50 percent in the June 2022 primary. 

Alameda: 32.89%Alpine: 61.07%Amador: 57.04%Butte: 39.29%
Calaveras: 48.42%Colusa: 35.59%Contra Costa: 35.07%Del Norte: 39.26%
El Dorado: 45.42%Fresno: 27.29%Glenn: 41.97%Humboldt: 40.81%
Imperial: 22.64%Inyo: 53.34%Kern: 25.95%Kings: 28.81%
Lake: 35.98%Lassen: 43.58%Los Angeles: 28.86%Madera: 34.47%
Marin: 49.50%Mariposa: 53.91%Mendocino: 41.54%Merced: 25.69%
Modoc: 48.69%Mono: 42.05%Monterey: 31.08%Napa: 43.11%
Nevada: 50.38%Orange: 35.17%Placer: 46.42%Plumas: 52.44%
Riverside: 28.80%Sacramento: 38.86%San Benito: 33.84%San Bernardino: 22.63%
San Diego: 34.91%San Francisco: 46.16%San Joaquin: 28.74%San Luis Obispo: 48.58%
San Mateo: 38.37%Santa Barbara: 39.85%Santa Clara: 35.72%Santa Cruz: 47.02%
Shasta: 46.35%Sierra: 54.55%Siskiyou: 44.14%Solano: 29.95%
Sonoma: 45.30%Stanislaus: 29.04%Sutter: 36.72%Tehama: 37.50%
Trinity: 50.18%Tulare: 24.70%Tuolumne: 48.53%Ventura: 40.18%
Yolo: 41.63%Yuba: 30.80%

It is important, and our right, that every eligible voter makes their voice heard because every election affects our lives – even the elections when we don’t vote for a president. When voters don’t show up to make their voices heard with the ballot, we don’t express our priorities, or receive leadership and policies that address what our communities need and want. And despite low voter turnout, many elections are decided in primaries, such as the successful recall of DA Chesa Boudin in San Francisco County, the defeat of environmental preservation measures A and B in Ventura County, and that’s just to name a few races that were decided in the June 2022 primary. Most counties had extremely low turnout, far below the 33% statewide average, which means a small amount of our population is making decisions on all of our behalf. If this trend continues through November, we won’t have a government and policies that reflect what Californians want and need for the next two years. 

So much more will be decided this November, so we must make sure that all eligible Californians register to vote and turnout. Californians will be voting on transformative ballot propositions from abortion rights (Prop. 1), to clean air (Prop. 30), and flavored tobacco bans (Prop. 31). 

Some of the counties where voter turnout was dismal are some of the very regions that will determine what party will control the US House in 2023: 

  • Fresno
  • Los Angeles
  • Merced
  • Riverside
  • San Joaquin
  • San Bernardino

We each hold so much power now through November. You can do your part by engaging with candidates running for office by asking them questions and expressing your needs, create a voting plan in advance and share Courage California Institute’s voting resources with your friends, families, and neighbors so that your community has the information needed to vote their values on November 8, 2022.