Placer County voter turnout falls on lower end of projections

Total of 25,000 to 30,000 ballots still to be counted
By: Gus Thomson Journal Staff Writer
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Placer County voter turnout was on the low end of expectations but still above the state average. Placer County elections chief Jim McCauley had projected a turnout of between 46 and 51 percent but the actual percentage will likely come in around 45 to 47 percent, his office is now stating. The state average is 25 percent in an election that failed to grab voters with sizeable issues or controversial races. McCauley said the turnout was expected to be down from previous primaries because of the absence of any big-ticket races. Both the Democratic and Republican parties had established their presidential candidates through votes already held in other states, McCauley said. Perhaps the biggest election races within Placer County revolved around campaigns for three Board of Supervisors posts. But while each of the three positions drew both incumbents and challengers, sitting Supervisors Jim Holmes (District 3), Kirk Uhler (District 4) and Jennifer Montgomery (District 5) were well ahead after the election night count. Ryan Ronco, assistant registrar recorder, said that 62,000 votes were counted on Election Day and between 25,000 and 30,000 ballots remained to be counted. That?s expected to be completed in 2½ to three weeks, he said. Mathematically, some candidates and ballot measures still have a chance, with a seismic shift in voting patterns between what has been counted and what has still to be tallied. In the case of District 5, the semi-official election summary issued by the county elections division shows Montgomery with 6,307 votes ? enough to top the majority needed to avoid a run-off against her next closest challenger. She has 53.75 percent of the vote. So far, 11,733 votes have been counted, with about 4,000 to 5,000 more remaining to be added to the District 5 count. Montgomery?s 6,307 votes compare to 5,426 for her four opponents combined and any write-in votes. ?We?re now involved in the post-election canvas and by law, have 28 days to complete it,? Ronco said. ?Right now anticipating 2 ½ to 3 weeks.? A final count could come as soon as June 22. Montgomery and Jerry Johnson, her next closest District 5 competitor, couldn?t be reached for comment. Johnson captured 1,896 votes, or 16.16 percent of the total. Ronco said the elections division will also be involved in several duties that must be completed under state law to ensure the vote count is correct. ?One of the most obvious and basic of those tests is the need to reconcile all polling-place rosters to ensure nobody out there was stuffing the ballot box with extra ballots,? he said. ?We also need to perform a hand count of ballots cast to verify the computer count was accurate. We?ll end up hand-counting about 10 percent of ballots.? Holmes and Uhler have seemingly insurmountable leads. In District 4, Uhler has 6,829 votes to 4,484 for challenger Pam Tobin. District 3?s Holmes has polled 5,689 votes to 2,995 for challenger Robert Grigas of Newcastle. Ronco said that while final figures weren?t available the number of ballots yet to count were similar to the projected total in District 5. Veteran political activist Tom Jones of Auburn said that the number of registered voters actually voting seemed to be caused by several factors. ?Apathy is the wrong word,? Jones said. ?The reason is that they?re preoccupied with personal things and have really lost confidence that their vote means anything.? Jones said that campaigns are now targeting people who actually vote and the sheer volume of calls and mailers is battering the best voters. ?And with media focused on commentators, they?re getting tired of hearing all of the negative,? Jones said. ?There?s no motivation. It?s hard to get a Ronald Reagan to show up.? Jones said that the Placer County campaigns seemed to steer clear of too much negativity. ?We do have good candidates and even the newbies refrained from attacking,? Jones said. ?Some actually took positions. It was a well-run campaign and a lot of people worked very hard to introduce themselves to the voters.?