Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
Published: Tuesday, May. 27, 2014 – 12:00 am

We will call June 3 election day in California, but it’s more accurately the final day of election month, and it promises to be a particularly lackluster one.

Voting by mail has become so pervasive in the state that roughly two-thirds of the ballots will have been delivered by the Postal Service. And the universal belief among political handicappers is that voter turnout may hit a new low.

Although voter registration has been rising as a proportion of Californians who are eligible to vote – over the age of 18 and citizens – actual voting by registrants has been drifting downward for years. This year’s primary is a perfect storm of depressed voting.

It’s a non-presidential primary, and it lacks an array of spirited duels that would draw voter interest. There’s no U.S. Senate race this year. The state’s dominant Democrats have, at most, pedestrian contests for statewide office – with none for governor. There are no hot ballot-measure campaigns.

Some structural changes have contributed to that ennui. For instance, Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature decreed – for expedient political reasons – that initiative measures can go on only the November ballot, so the primary has only two measures, both placed by the Legislature, that lack sizzle.

Moreover, the advent of the top-two primary system for statewide, legislative and congressional offices more or less postpones the big showdowns until November.

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