Dana Hobart misled the public when it came to discussing voter turnout
RANCHO MIRAGE – In his hasty effort to denounce an effort to change the date of the municipal election from April to coincide with the federal election in November, Councilmember Dana Hobart misled the public about voter turnout.
Kate Spates, a spokeswoman for Rancho Mirage Forward and not one to mince words, said Hobart patently “lied.”
Hobart did not return a request for comment from Uken Report.
Ranch Mirage Forward is a group of citizens advocating moving City Council meetings to 5 p.m. or later, so working residents can participate. Members also want to synch local elections with federal elections, so more residents vote.
At the March 18 City Council meeting, Hobart defended the city holding its municipal elections in April, arguing that voter turnout exceeded 50% in three recent elections. He claimed more people vote in April elections compared to November.
In April 2020, 51% of Rancho Mirage voters voted for City Council, according to the Riverside Registrar of Voters. In November 2020, Rancho Mirage had 93.3% turnout, according to CalMatters.
It wasn’t an anomaly.
In November 2018, 81% of Rancho Murage voters turned out to vote while only 56% turned out in April for the city election. Similar story in 2016 when 88% of Rancho Mirage voters cast a ballot compared to only a 57% for the local election. In 2014, 67% of registered voter participated in the November federal elections compared with 52% who voted in the City Council election.
“By holding our elections in April, we get more votes cast than in the November election,” Hobart said. “More people participate in Rancho Mirage elections than in the presidential election.”
Hobart’s myth begs this question: If he misleads the public about something that can so easily and readily be verified, on what other issues is he misleading the public?
“Democracy works best when more people participate,” Hobart said,
True. That is why Rancho Mirage Forward is advocating change. They want the huge percentages that participate in November elections to also participate in local elections by combining them.
“If it’s truly about voter participation, wouldn’t they want to align with November elections? It seemed nefarious — as if the current Council knows they can activate 3,000 some-odd votes in their favor, but they might not be able to control if the participation was greater,” Spates has told Uken Report.
Spates, an independent businesswoman who ran unsuccessfully in 2018, initiated a petition in February to change meeting times of City Council. Her petition also calls for elections to be inclusive. Spates started the Petition on Change.org and has collected more than 445 signatures.
Councilmembers have dismissed her efforts as being politically motivated.
Spates has not said whether she will run in 2022. That’s when the terms of Hobart, Charles Townsend and Iris Smotrich expire. None of the three incumbents has announced a re-election bid in 2022,
- Kate Spates: Kate Spates
- G. Dana Hobart: YouTube