Registrars across the Sacramento region saw mixed amounts of turnout for Tuesday’s primary, following low turnout ahead of election day.
Sacramento County spokesperson Janna Haynes says she expects to see that pattern of comparatively low turnout continue in the county.
“I still think we’re experiencing a pretty low turnout,” Haynes told CapRadio’s Randol White on Tuesday night.
She said the ballots counted across the next couple days — which include those filled out in-person, those dropped off at voting centers and ballots postmarked and sent in on June 7 — will result in a bump.
“But I’m not sure if we’re going to hit that 42% we were aiming for in 2018,” she added.
Haynes said that turnout based on the number of ballots collected and in-person votes would be around 22% as of 11 p.m., though results on the county website show turnout based only on ballots that have been counted so far would be 12%.
While Placer County registrar Ryan Ronco said “it’s really impossible” to tell how this year might compare to 2018, he noted the county received a high number of vote-by-mail ballots despite not getting a sizable polling place turnout.
“My guess is that the turnout percentages will eventually be close (either a little over or a little under) the 2018 gubernatorial primary numbers,” Ronco said via email. “The major difference will be in the way people decided to participate.”
In the 2018 primary, around 20% of Placer County voters voted at a polling place. This year, Ronco estimates that number will be closer to 5%.
Counties will accept mail-in ballots postmarked by election day until June 14.
Yolo County, in contrast, is reporting turnout at 22%, according to Katharine Ocampos with the Yolo County Elections Office. Unlike Haynes and Ronco, she refrained from making any prediction as to turnout compared to 2018.
“It is difficult to predict what the final overall turnout will be as vote by mail ballots are still coming in over the next few days (postmarked by today, Election Day),” she said via email.
El Dorado County is also reporting a turnout above 20%, with latest results showing a 25% turnout.
Historically, gubernatorial primaries have seen the lowest turnout of any statewide election, said PDI’s vice president, Paul Mitchell, on CapRadio’s Insight.
He said this year’s low turnout reflects an election that “just isn’t that interesting to voters.”
“You can have free parking at the arena and low-cost tickets, but if the game isn’t interesting, people won’t show up,” Mitchell said.
In 2018, Sacramento, Yolo, El Dorado and Placer counties all reported turnout in the 40-50% range, with Sacramento at 42%, Yolo 44%, El Dorado 49% and Placer at 50% voter turnout.
For voters who were drawn to the primary polls, two issues of concern were gun control and abortion. UC Davis freshman Charlie Rosenberg, who voted at the university, and 38-year-old Samuel Jimenez, who cast his vote at Galt’s Littleton Community Center, both said they were concerned about mass shootings.
“There’s just a lot of issues that pushed me to come out and vote today, but I think the number one is gun control with the recent violence and mass shootings we’re seeing across the country,” Jimenez said.
Though finals week looms over Rosenberg and the rest of the Davis campus, he told CapRadio’s Chris Nichols that finals “shouldn’t distract” students from broader issues, including voting and getting involved in community.
“There’s been a lot of horrible, horrible things happening … the one [shooting] in Uvalde was horrific and I really stopped to think about that one after it happened,” he said. “There’s just more and more of them. And that’s not to mention, obviously, Roe v. Wade and all the abortion laws and how that’s just taking away a lot of bodily autonomy.”
And in Sacramento County, the primary will be crucial to the direction the county takes with police funding, gun control and law enforcement, with the sheriff and district attorney positions vacated by incumbents Scott Jones and Anne Marie Schubert. That’s because while the top two candidates — regardless of party — advance to the main election in November, if only two candidates are running, the primary election decides the race.
Ronco cited the Placer County sheriff’s race as one potential draw for county voters, who have the option to vote in a new sheriff for the first time since 2017.
The election will be officially certified by the Secretary of State on July 15, but some candidates with large leads will declare victory on or shortly after election night. CapRadio and NPR rely on The Associated Press for all vote counting and race calls. Here’s how that process works.
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