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Voting patterns: The way so few chose for the city

By From page A1 | June 10, 2014

If you voted June 3, you made yourself part of a decision-making elite — at least as far as Davis is concerned.

With two important local measures on the ballot and a five-person City Council race for two seats, there wasn’t a shortage of import to the June 3 election for the future of Davis.

But when all is said and counted, the Yolo County Elections Office believes voter turnout in the county will be somewhere between 30 and 38 percent. For Davis-specific races, that number sits now at roughly 30 percent.

Still, voting data from the Elections Office shows varying degrees of voter participation throughout the city, precinct by precinct. North Davis largely showed the highest levels of participation in the city, with Central and South Davis showing the least.

The highest turnout was in Precinct 37, south of Northstar Park and northeast of Catalina Drive. There, 1,023 voters — 45 percent of those registered — cast their ballots.

The lowest turnout was in Precinct 40 in South Davis, surrounding the University Research Park. Only 952 voters there — 15 percent of those registered — cast their ballots.

So what happened? Tom Stanionis, chief of staff at the Elections Office, said there is an overall trend toward decreasing voter participation in primary elections. More people vote if there are bigger offices to choose, like a governor, or, in the best-case scenario for voter turnout, a president.

A gubernatorial primary, especially one in which Jerry Brown is sure to win, fails to draw many voters, he said, even in an election with so many important local issues.

“Personal philosophy is that a generation that grew up with the Internet thinks more broadly than a generation that grew up reading a local newspaper,” Stanionis said, adding that local politicians haven’t quite caught up to that reality.

Yet there are other factors, too, such as how well the campaigns inspired voters as a whole to participate.

Timing could be a factor, too, in Davis. With finals, students may have been too busy to vote.

“It’s hard for us in our position to draw a lot of broad strokes,” Stanionis said, adding that there is one broad stroke he could make as a representative of the Elections Office: “We’re running the movie theater, we’re not making the movie. We may have the cleanest, best movie theater around, but if people don’t like the movie they will not come to see it.”

Those who did come to see the movie made for some interesting voting patterns across the city. Similar geographical divides exist for Measure P, the initiative to throw out Davis’ water rates, and Measure O, the city’s bid to boost the sales tax from 8 percent to 8.5 percent.

In far East Davis, east of Mace Boulevard and north of El Macero, bordered on the north by Interstate 80, sits Precinct 44. That precinct features a combination of apartment buildings, older homes and luxurious, newer-looking residences.

This part of town was the most skeptical of the city. Voters there cast their ballots to approve Measure P by a 59.1 percent margin. Of the 34 precincts in Davis, 19 voted to approve Measure P. Precinct 44 also voted against Measure O by a margin of 54 percent.

The precinct most sympathetic to the city government was downtown’s Precinct 18, bordered by the railroad tracks on the east and south, UC Davis to the west and Fifth Street to the north.

Roughly 75 percent of voters there cast their ballots for Measure O. Voters there also turned down Measure P by the highest margin in the city, 69 percent.

By and large it was more likely that eastern Davis districts voted against Measure O, and the rest voted to approve it, while for Measure P the geographical breakup is harder to describe. Far West Davis precincts and eastern precincts were more likely to approve it by narrow margins, while North Davis and South Davis were divided.

— Maps were provided by staff writer Elizabeth Case. Reach Dave Ryan at [email protected] or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @davewritesnews

Dave Ryan

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