Campaign OK’d to get a voter turnout of 80 percent in 2008.
BY SONYA SMITH IRVINE WORLD NEWS
The City Council will spend $89,000 on a campaign to increase the number of registered voters and getting a voter turnout of more than 80 percent in the November 2008 election.
“The Irvine Democracy Project: Vote 2008” was proposed by Mayor Beth Krom in April. The proposal included plans to work with other organizations to increase voter registration and turnout, invitations to each announced presidential candidate to visit the city and $100,000 set aside for the program. Of the letters sent to all the presidential hopefuls, no visits have been lined up, but both Hillary Clinton and John Edwards have acknowledged receipt of the letter.
The Tuesday proposal was approved with a 4-1 vote (Councilman Steven Choi dissenting).
The program includes the following points: increase the distribution of voter registration cards; provide voter registration and election information directly to local organizations and ethnic media outlets; use city newsletters to encourage people to vote; use newsletters sent to city employees to urge them to vote; create a public service announcement ad to be broadcast on the city’s ICTV-channel 30 before each election; place more ads in the Irvine World News urging people to vote; invite representatives of the Registrar of Voters office to attend city events; track results of the program; ask for more polling places in the city and more emphasis on absentee ballot voting; work with local high schools and colleges to increase voter outreach; send a mailer in December to all households urging them to register and vote; place no more than 100 banners throughout the city urging people to vote; have a logo made for the voter outreach program; and continue efforts to bring the presidential hopefuls to the city.
Councilman Larry Agran said the program is important “to make sure that everyone votes, and that everyone’s vote counts.”
He said that he knows voter turnout will be naturally higher in the November election, but he wants even the June midterm election to receive at least 50 percent voter turnout.
Councilman Steven Choi said that he agreed with the program’s intent, but he wanted to eliminate the banners to cut costs. Councilwoman Christina Shea called the program a “waste of taxpayer money.” But, she ultimately approved the proposal when Agran adjusted the motion to permit City Manager Sean Joyce to decide if street banners are necessary.
Shea called Agran’s motion fair and said “we want to promote civic engagement in a cost-effective way.”
The council led a similar effort in 2000 on behalf of Irvine, Mission Viejo, Dana Point and Laguna Hills. In that campaign, the cities hired public relations firm Forde and Mollrich to urge voters to turnout for the March and November elections.
The program was challenged in the Court of Appeals on allegations that it was a way of urging residents to vote against the airport plan for the El Toro Marine Corps air base. The voter campaign was upheld as legal.
More recently, Agran brought forward a voter program in 2006, eight weeks before the November elections. The city manager and city clerk oversaw the program, finding a contractor to compile a list of households likely to have unregistered voters. Then, three mailings were sent to those households with voter registration forms and a letter encouraging the residents to vote.
BY THE NUMBERS
$89,000 expected cost of the “Irvine Democracy Project: Vote 2008.” 96,370 number of registered voters in Irvine (as of July 27) out of the city’s 202,000 population. 80.04 percent highest voter turnout in Irvine – during the November 2000 election. 49 percent voter turnout during the November 2006 election.
Source: City of Irvine