There has been an incredible amount of weeping and gnashing of teeth in the last week over the dismal voter turnout in Davis, Yolo County and California in general during last Tuesday’s statewide primary election.
When all eligible voters (citizens 18 and over) are considered in the calculations instead of just registered voters, some estimates of voter turnout throughout the Golden State are as low as 18 percent.
Now take that 18 percent figure and apply it to our local race for the 4th District seat in the California State Assembly, where the two front-runners, Charlie Schaupp and Bill Dodd, both came in with just over 25 percent of the vote.
That means of all the eligible voters in the 4th District, only about 5 percent voted for Schaupp and 5 percent voted for Dodd. And those were the two “winners.”
It’s hardly a mandate. But those figures do confirm what I learned over the last several weeks of the campaign from first-hand experience.
Just before the election I took a fact-finding trip to the small, but delightful city of Williams in the northeast part of the sprawling district that covers all of two counties and parts of four more.
OK, the primary purpose of the trip was to have lunch in the bar at Granzella’s, in the shade of the giant stuffed polar bears, but I did do some fact-finding while I was there so I could put in for reimbursement for both gas and lunch.
I nudged the guy next to me at the bar and gently asked “Do you know who Bill Dodd is?”
The answer came back quickly: “Isn’t that the 300-pound dude from Stanford the 49ers drafted in the third round?”
I elbowed another patron on the other side of the bar with the question: “Do you like Wolk?”
His reply: “I like to hunt and I like to fish and I like to watch that ‘Duck Dynasty’ deal on TV, but I don’t wolk. My wife’s in some women’s exercise group, though, and they go wolking around Arbuckle every morning.”
I asked our waitress “What about Krovoza?” and she replied that they were “fresh out of Krovoza, but we do have gelato.”
And finally, the bartender allowed that “there’s no place to Schaupp in Williams, except Garrison’s Surplus, and they’re closed half the time since the old man died.”
A week prior to that I was speaking to a delightful noontime gathering of folks in Woodland, our partner in crime on the quarter-billion dollar Surface Water Project that appeared so promising before the state ruled Sacramento River water out of bounds. But all is not lost. Since ground has been broken, construction started and there’s no turning back, perhaps we’ll get the world’s first quarter-billion dollar skate park instead.
At the end of my brilliant presentation to this luncheon group on the joys and jubilation of writing a daily newspaper column in the Most Relevant City in North America, I asked for a show of hands.
“How many of you can name at least two candidates in the race for the 4th Assembly District?”
Absolutely no takers.
“How many voting for Wolk?” was met with blank stares.
Same response to “How many voting for Krovoza?”
“You Woodland folks aren’t exactly fond of Davis politicians are you?” was greeted with muffled snickers that rippled through the half-eaten lettuce on their salad plates.
Two hands were raised when I mentioned Bill Dodd’s name, but given the voter turnout numbers we’ve been hearing, odds are neither of those folks actually showed up at the polls to vote for Bill Dodd on Election Day.
Which is fine. Just as long as we make it as easy and convenient as possible for people to vote, we shouldn’t really trouble ourselves with who shows up at the polls and who doesn’t.
If only 20 percent bother to vote instead of the 100 percent that’s possible, that gives those of us who do show up five times the voting power we would otherwise have. And that’s not a bad tradeoff.
If you don’t care to vote, stay home. The rest of us will be more than happy to run the country without you.
— Reach Bob Dunning at email@example.com