Merced County registrar hopes for a strong turnout at polls

06/02/2014 10:24 PM

06/03/2014 5:34 PM

Merced County Registrar of Voters Barbara Levey is hoping for a strong turnout at the polls on election day.

During the June primary election in 2010, there was a 27.49 percent total turnout. Though it’s unclear what the turnout will be at the polls this year, Levey’s office received less than 22 percent of the vote-by-mail ballots as of Thursday.

“I had hoped the sheriff’s race would generate more interest, but we’re looking at a low turnout so far,” Levey said. “We’re not seeing it, but we only have vote-by-mail ballots.”

As of May 27, there were 94,779 registered voters in Merced County, with 37,993 registered to vote by mail. Officials are “optimistically” hoping for at least 30 percent turnout in the 2014 primary election.

With a number of exciting local races, Levey said she hopes residents take part in shaping their local government.

“I don’t know if there’s a general feeling that votes don’t count, but it absolutely does. Especially if people don’t like how things are going,” Levey said. “This is their chance to effect change, and I hope people read up on the issues and consider where they want things to go and who’s going to be the leader to take them there.”

Vote-by-mail ballots must be received by 8 p.m. today and can be dropped off at any polling place, at any of the six city halls in Merced County and at the county administration building, 2222 M St. in Merced.

Levey stressed dropping off the vote-by-mail ballots sooner rather than later.

“The sooner we get them, the better because we can start processing them,” she said.

For those who prefer to vote in person, the polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. There are 60 locations throughout the county, and residents can find their polling location by checking their sample ballot, calling the elections office at (209) 385-7541 or visiting the county’s website.

To look up a polling location online, visit http://www.co.merced.ca.us and click on “elections” under county departments. Once on the elections page, click on “Polling Place Look-Up” on the left-hand side.

Once polls close at 8 p.m., the first round of results will be posted on the county’s website. It includes a tally of the vote-by-mail ballots received prior to election day. Then the results will be updated as the 126 precincts in the county begin reporting results.

“Before we leave here that night, we’re going to have 100 percent of the precincts reporting and count all the vote-by-mail ballots received prior to election day,” Levey said.

Election results are unofficial on election night, Levey said, because officials spend the next day counting the vote-by-mail ballots dropped off on election day. Officials also double-check their work by recounting random samples and rechecking various precincts.

Weather forecasters predict election day will be a clear, sunny day in Merced.

The high is expected to reach 57 degrees in the morning and 87 degrees in the afternoon. “It’s going to be a kind of breezy day,” said Jim Dudley, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Hanford.

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