Voting in Los Angeles

To be clear, the larger point when the registrar and commentators are discussing the paltry turnout of voting in Los Angeles is how they talk about it; up to this point, they neglect to mention the demographics of The City.

Yet the turnout or lack thereof for voting has much to do with identity politics. If we’re going to talk seriously about impacting turnout, then discussing “the voters” in purely abstract terms is not helpful. We have information now, and it’s meant to be used; below, for example, is a telling info-graphic on voters identified before the election on March 7th either by registration or vote by mail submissions.

As a note, these graphs are incomplete, as they do not account for people who identify as mixed, or Native American or Pacific Islander as the census from 2013 does. Still, they tell a story that’s useful for a comprehensive look at the patterns we’re dealing with for voting in Los Angeles.


Based on the data, we can see that the race starts early through the registration of voters; in terms of who’s eligible to vote, white voters outnumber their non-white counterparts by considerable margins; then, in terms of age range, the number of eligible voters is spread more or less similarly across the board with the exception of people aged 18-24.

Assuming that each of these voters hold a place on the vote-by-mail list, as is standard procedure, the potential for at least a reasonable turnout of the vote either by mail or on election day is there. However, when it comes to actually returning the ballot before election day, white Senior citizens make up for more than half of all returned ballots at 64.7%; the non-white population on the other hand, makes up for just 35.7% of returns.

When we consider this information alongside our census, we’ve got a story. In essence, while the “minority majority” is a favorite talking point for liberal circles which like to speculate about the future makeup of the country, if we look at our census from 2013 we’ll find that in Los Angeles the combined population of nonwhite eligible voters is already here, towering at 74.8% of the city’s composition, plus or minus a few percentage points. Minority much, then? Not in L.A. at least.

Screenshot 2017-03-08 at 4.38.00 PM - Edited

Is there a way to be more specific, however, or to see more about L.A. voters besides their age and racial category? Sure. The three categories for the large numbers below as set up by the samplers are ‘registered’, ‘has ballot’, and ‘returned’, respectively.

Screenshot 2017-03-13 at 3.25.25 PM - Edited.png

From this, since we already know that Senior white or Anglo Seniors rock the vote-by-mail in a league of their own, we can see from this second graphic that these folks are overwhelmingly a group of homeowners, outnumbering apartment renters by essentially 58%.

We can also see that a sizable portion of vote-by-mailers registered or re-registered for November’s general election, and that hardly any new voters entered the game in 2017.

In essence, then, based on the information available to us all, what’s clear about politics in Los Angeles is that while most of its constituents or the “minority majority” is stuck in traffic somewhere, a network of mostly Senior white homeowners is largely responsible for electing the city’s officials and policy-making.

What a fascinating dynamic. At a time when the 2011 Texas legislative session has just been indicted for drawing district lines discriminating against black and Latino voters in favor of Republican Anglos, we might say that L.A. is a 2011 Texan Republican’s perfect empty vessel, a dreamland of political opportunity for white identity politics.

Isn’t that something?! But of course there’s more the story; again soon.

For POC Today,


Author: J.T.

I'm a writer, editor, and photographer with a passion for community development in Los Angeles. While my editing work covers a range of different subjects, my writing focuses primarily on social welfare in the city, including education at L.A.'s public middle and high schools, public transportation planning and efficacy, housing and small business policy, as well as voting turnout for local elections and policy. My photography is similarly city-based, focusing mostly on what makes Los Angeles home to so many working-class people from all across the U.S.A. and throughout the world. Enjoy.

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