Low voter turnout could make this worst Election Day ever

PLUS: Top 5 reasons to get excited about election
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Jim McCauley is getting concerned. When all ballots are counted from today’s statewide primary vote, McCauley – Placer County’s elections chief – has a sinking feeling that it’s going to be the worst in terms of turnout in recent memory, if not ever. McCauley has been watching vote-by-mail ballot returns and results by Monday were causing him to forecast a 46 percent turnout. During a typical election, McCauley’s elections division office would have received 50 percent of all absentee votes by the weekend before Election Day. This time around, however, McCauley’s office had received 22.59 percent of the absentee ballots by early Monday. That’s just more than 44,000 of the 197,000 voters registered in the county. McCauley has studied the numbers from around the state and said Monday that Placer County’s absentee ballot return is higher than most other counties in an election with issues and candidates that haven’t fired up voters. “There’s not a lot on the ballot,” McCauley said, adding that’s no excuse for voters to avoid casting ballots. Polls for registered voters open at 7 a.m. today and close at 8 p.m. The absentee ballots received before Election Day should be counted early but because election returns have to be driven from distant areas of the county to be counted at North Auburn’s election division headquarters, an unofficial final count won’t be available until early Wednesday. Absentee ballots turned in or mailed today will be included in the official county, which usually takes at least two weeks to tally. Roseville voters will be deciding on whether to keep first-term Placer County Supervisor Rocky Rockholm or vote for challenger Jack Duran, a Roseville Union High School District trustee. On Monday, both candidates were out walking precincts in a final attempt to muster more voters. Todd Stenhouse, Duran’s spokesman, said the candidate’s election office was teeming with supporters manning phone lines. “We’re making sure we’re getting out the vote,” Stenhouse said. Kent Pollock, Rockholm’s campaign spokesman, said Rockholm was knocking on doors to reinforce a robo-call offering to drive voters to the polls. Rockholm supporters also were situated at five street corners in Roseville waving campaign signs in the morning and evening. McCauley said that if the advance numbers hold true to form, it would be the lowest turnout in his nearly 20 years with the county and – given historical turnout statistics – the lowest in Placer’s history. Oddly enough, even with the low turnout projected, Placer County will remain among the leaders in the state. Projections are for a turnout statewide of about 30 to 35 percent, he said. “In these times, it’s probably more important to vote than any time else,” McCauley said. “Voters need to show elected officials that they do care and that they’re still watching. The only way to voice that is to vote.” ------------------------------------------- Top Five Placer County election races 1. Roseville-area Placer County Board of Supervisors seat 2. Primaries for gubernatorial candidates 3. Primary for congressional candidates 4. Primary for lieutenant governor 5. Primary for superintendent of public instruction