Midterm elections and turnout in South L.A.

Listen to the full audio story
Show Embed Code | Download the MP3

Let's be honest. For most Californians who don't eat, drink, and sleep politics, this midterm election has been kind of a snoozer.

There's obviously no close-fought presidential race. The gubernatorial battle between Jerry Brown and Neel Kashkari has at best been one-sided, and at worst nonexistent. Propositions affecting our water infrastructure and long-term fiscal stability are certainly important, but they're not quite the voter bait that past initiatives like Prop 8 and Prop 187 were.

If you're feeling nonplussed about the midterms in the Golden State, you're not alone. A recent Field Poll projects this election to have the lowest voter turnout in California in half a century. with only a third of adults making it out to the polls.

That's the challenge facing Shaq Abraham, a coordinator for the Service Employees International Union's campaign in the 64th Assembly District, which includes portions of extends from south Los Angeles to the South Bay. Abraham is rallying phone bank volunteers and door knockers for Prophet Walker. Because of California's top two primary system, he is running against fellow Democrat and Carson city councilman Mike Gipson.

"Voters see the president as an election that affects them in their life," says Abraham. "But with local campaigns, they affect them everyday. Whether you have enough books in your schools, whether you have enough jobs in your community, whether your pay rate is going to take care of your family."

There's likely more buzz in the Prophet-Gipson race than in most state assembly races. Although Prophet trailed Gipson by thirty points in the primary, his campaign recieved a shot in the arm when an anti-Prophet flyer featuring Prophet in a hoodie with a photoshopped gun surfaced.

Prophet had been convicted of robbery without a weapon, and servied five years in in prison. While both candidates are African-American, Critics ripped Gipson for playing on African-American stereotypes, and celebrities like Tyrese Gibson and Russell Simmons backed Walker.

Abraham hopes turnout is high. But he's refreshingly candid when it comes to his priorities. 

When asked if he would be more satisfied if every possible voter in the district actually came to the polls, or if Walker won with low turnout, Abraham did not equivocate.

"If it takes half of the electorate not to vote, for all of the electroate to benefit, I'll take that."

Meaning, elect Prophet Walker, no matter the turnout.