Friday, January 26, 2024

TWD Election Analysis

A Vote Based On $ Went 79% For Those With The $. 

On Dec. 5, 2023, Tuscan Water District won a majority of votes in an election that violated every Constitutional legal norm some lesser property owners can think of by allotting one vote per dollar of land owned.

Here are the numbers from the County's election certification document: 

TWD petitioners accounted for about $300 million out of the over $700 million in assessed property value within the District map. Predictably enough, $309 million worth of assessed land value voted yes.

So even one accepts appropriating votes based upon wealth, TWD was passed with the approval of less than half the assessed value of property within the district.

This is the breakdown by ballots cast:

One could argue that even if the ballots had been based on one person-one vote, TWD would have won. However, no-shows were the biggest share of registered voters by a wide margin when counted as individuals rather than collections of parcels.

Groundwater For Butte requested the most detailed spreadsheet on the vote that the County Recorder was legally able to provide us, and crunched the data:

Non-Voters Carried the Day.

Of the ballots mailed out, fewer than half were returned. Each ballot represented not an individual owner or company representative, but an APN number:

Many voting individuals or companies own multiple properties. When we identified the voting parcels by their individual owners, eliminating the redundancies, participation in the election shrinks to about a third:

This was not a one-person, one-vote election. Each ballot was weighted by the dollar value of its owner's land. We tallied how many dollars nominally voted versus how many did not. The result indicates that non-voters as a whole own less land than those who did vote:

Petitioners vs. Non-Petitioners

When redundancies in ownership are eliminated (as above) in the tally of parcels sent ballots, TWD petitioners – all of whom presumably voted "yes" - were found to have cast fewer than a quarter of the votes:

By value of land owned, however, the petitioners made up over 50% of the vote. This is another indication of how this election was slanted from the start toward big property owners:

By the stated terms of this election, a second one will have to be held at some point in the future to ask property owners for a tax assessment to pay for the Tuscan Water District.

Will more property owners return their ballots if they're being asked for money to fund an opaque government layer they have no say in?