John Myers reports at KQED:
The final tally from elections officials is that 7,317,581 votes were cast in the two-man race between Brown and GOP challenger Neel Kashkari. Brown won 60 percent of those votes, the most lopsided gubernatorial contest since 1986. It was also, it seems, the least inspiring in more than a generation.
State elections data show last month’s gubernatorial election saw fewer votes cast than in the previous eight quadrennial contests. Only 1978’s race between Brown and Republican Evelle Younger saw fewer total votes cast (6,922,378) than did 2014.
As we pointed out just after the election, the real legacy of the tepid turnout is the amazingly new low threshold for getting an initiative or referendum on the 2016 and 2018 ballot — a threshold that by law is set by the total number of votes cast for governor....
For the 1980 and 1982 election cycles, the threshold to qualify an initiative — 346,119 voter signatures — represented about 3.4 percent of the state’s registered voters.
For the 2016 and 2018 election cycles, the threshold to qualify an initiative — what we think will be 365,879 voter signatures — will represent just 2 percent of registered voters. And if you look at the state’s eligible electorate, a group that’s vastly larger than it was in 1978, it’s clear that there’s about to be a big boost of power for a relatively small number of Californians in forcing a statewide vote on a proposal of their choosing.