A campaign sign for one of the 80th Assembly District candidates
A campaign sign for one of the 80th Assembly District candidates greets drivers near Cesar E. Chavez Parkway and Kearney Avenue in San Diego. / Photo by Jesse Marx

Voter turnout during primaries and special elections is almost always low. But even high-profile contests can reveal startling stats. 

In his latest Fine City column, Jesse Marx dug into the question of why people don’t vote

The barriers to voting are very real — language, access and confusion are just a few of them. But plenty of people are simply dissatisfied with the political process. They don’t see themselves reflected in government and don’t see much of an improvement in their conditions as elected officials come and go.

Marx analyzed census tracts with low voter registration estimates and found that those same communities are home to higher-than-normal rates of poverty. On the whole, they’re also younger, less educated and denser. 

It’s easy to criticize nonvoters for not understanding what’s at stake. Contrary to stereotype, though, people who don’t vote or selectively vote are not always disengaged. Some, in fact, are avid consumers of media and they’ve concluded that voting isn’t worth it. Others would prefer to put their energies into charitable acts that have an immediate impact on their neighbors. 

When low-income people abstain from the ballot box, Marx writes, it reinforces middle- and upper-class representation in politics.

There are groups on the ground doing voter outreach work and they’ve had success in recent years. But as one organizer explained, local candidates and backers of ballot measures tend to concentrate their efforts on people who consistently vote while ignoring those who don’t.  

“It widens the gap,” he said. 

Click here to read more.

Mexico Rebuilds Washed-Out Tijuana River Pollution Barrier

One way to keep Tijuana sewage from crossing the border is building what amounts to a giant, earthen curb across an opening in the border fence where the Tijuana River crosses the U.S.-Mexico border. 

But during the rainy winter months, that barrier gets washed out when the river swells with rain — precisely what happened when the first big rain spell hit Dec. 9. Subsequent rains and a mysterious sewage spill meant that barrier wasn’t rebuilt. 

But now it’s back, according to the International Boundary and Water Commission, the binational agency that treats a portion of the sewage-laden water rolling into the U.S. from Tijuana under a treaty between the two countries.

Mexico borrows equipment from IBWC to reconstruct that poo-stopping curb. And under IBWC’s new agreement that settled three lawsuits, there are requirements Mexico build a second one and IBWC build one on the U.S. side to catch any remaining river pollution during the dry summer months. 

In Other News

  • The average price of gas in San Diego County has fallen 15 times in the last 16 days. (Times of San Diego)
  • Sexually transmitted diseases are increasing in San Diego County, and experts warn that trend could continue. (inewsource)
  • After a slight uptick last week, COVID-19 cases in the county have fallen back near pandemic lows this week, leading public health experts to wonder if we’ve settled into a stable level that will last through the summer. (Union-Tribune)
  • A San Diego City Council committee Wednesday heard a proposal from Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe that would create a Black arts and cultural district in Encanto. (KPBS)
  • Kathy Hocul, New York’s governor, told the Buffalo News that the state government agreed to subsidize a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills in part because other cities were lobbying the franchise to relocate, specifically mentioning San Diego as a city that would love to have a team. “If there wasn’t something done soon, they had other options,” she said. “Buffalo is a very small market, and it is extraordinary that they have a team at all. There’s a lot more money to be had in places like San Diego.” Not so long ago, San Diego had a football team, which during its pursuit of a new stadium subsidized by the city was adamant during that time the market did not have enough money to cover personal seat licenses, a tool teams often use to fund their part of new stadiums. 

This Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, MacKenzie Elmer and Andrew Keatts. It was edited by Megan Wood.

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