There are an enormous number of candidates on the June 3 ballot. Just the statewide races include Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, Controller, Treasurer, Attorney General, Insurance Commissioner, Superintendent for Public Instruction and various seats for California’s Board of Equalization. There are also two statewide ballot initiatives. But that’s not all! There are also all of the county by county elections in the state, so there’s much to study. (Photo: Saul Gonzalez)
Do you recognize any of the following names: Akinyemi Agbede, Joe Leicht, Alma Marie Winston? No? They’re among the 15 people running for the state’s highest office, Governor of California. There are eight more people running for Lt. Governor, seven candidates for Attorney General and eight on the ballot for Secretary of State.
The June 3rd election is just around the corner. It’s a day that political watchers say could set a record in terms of low voter turnout in California. Many also fear that those who do come out to cast their ballots may not have sufficient information to make a smart decision about who they’re voting for, especially when it comes to so called “down ballot” races, these are the smorgasbord of political contests below higher profile races like governor and attorney general.
In our story below, we explore the lack of knowledge when it comes to one important set of candidates on the ballot and tackle the topic of whether some choices now given to voters should be in other people’s hands.
There’s still time to get informed about the candidates and the offices they’re seeking to fill. Increase your election IQ here.
Attorney Gretchen Nelson is chairperson of the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Judicial Elections Evaluation Committee. It attempts to educate voters about the qualifications of candidates for L.A. County Superior Court judgeships by rating them on a spectrum from “exceptionally well qualified” to “not qualified.” Ratings are based on candidates’ experience, knowledge and temperament, the last factor being whether they would be listen to all parties in a courtroom dispute fairly. Nelson says many voters don’t even know the basics about judicial races, like the fact that every voter in L.A. County will be able to cast a ballot in all the judicial races. “Most people don’t know that these are countywide races, so it doesn’t matter where the candidate is from. The candidate can reside in Pomona, but people in Santa Monica will be deciding whether that person can become a judge,” says Nelson. (Photo: Saul Gonzalez)
Jessica Levinson, a professor of election law at Los Angeles’ Loyola Law School, worries about how little voters know about candidates when they cast their ballots on election days, especially for lesser known positions, like the state’s Board of Equalization and judicial offices. Levinson would like to see more positions filled through appointments by elected officials rather than decided on by the voters, but she acknowledges that’s unlikely to happen. “I don’t think we’re going to take this power away from people, because even if they don’t exercise the power well, they really like to weigh in on everything,” says Levinson. (Photo: Saul Gonzalez)