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Placer County voters rush to sign up ahead of Nov. 2 election

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Placer County elections division is moving into the final days of a general election that has attracted a record number of registered voters. Ryan Ronco, assistant registrar of voters, said that an expected last-minute rush of voter registration applications should boost Placer’s totals before the Nov. 2 election to 201,500 or more. The increase in registrations marks the first time Placer County – with a population of about 340,000 – will have crossed the 200,000 threshold for voters registered in an election, he said. The number of voters reflects the county’s rapid growth. Two decades ago, Placer had a population of fewer than 180,000 people. Placer County almost reached the 200,000 mark during the presidential election two years ago, but fell short by less than 1,000 voters. Elections division numbers show non-partisan voter totals increasing from 36,357 in November 2008, compared to 38,017 in November 2008 – while Republican Party (from 96,996 to 97,173) and Democratic Party (59,126 to 58,137) registrations haven’t kept pace. Ronco said the county received about 1,400 registration cards around the cutoff Monday and expects more to trickle in from mailings and out-of-jurisdiction sources like the Secretary of State’s office and Sacramento County. “We’re working hard to get voter materials out as we add late registrants,” he said. Next Tuesday will be the last day to request vote-by-mail ballots by mail. Ronco said absentee ballots can still be given out after that date to people dropping into the 2956 Richardson Drive offices of the county clerk. While the governor’s race and Measure 19 to legalize marijuana possession has attracted national attention, Placer County voters will also be deciding on several local races. One of the more high-profile campaigns is a special election for Senate District 1 to replace the late Sen. Dave Cox, R-Fair Oaks. The special primary election is being consolidated with the general election and both elections will be on the same ballot. Even though the Senate District 1 contest is a special primary election, all of the candidates will appear on the same ballot regardless of party affiliation and voters do not need to belong to the party of the candidate they vote for. Auburn, Roseville and Colfax are part of the district. If one of the District 1 candidates receives a majority of the votes, that candidate will be elected. If there is a special general election, it will be held Jan. 4. That would pit a Democrat candidate against the top Republican vote getter in the special primary.