June 4, 2014

Merced County sees low voter turnout

Merced County’s voter turnout on Tuesday’s primary elections was not what officials had expected.

Merced County’s voter turnout at Tuesday’s primary election was not what officials had expected, and that’s not a good thing.

With a 24.67 percent voter turnout, this year’s turnout was lower than that recorded in the June 2010 primary election. In 2010, the voter turnout in Merced County was recorded as 27.49 percent.

According to Merced County Registrar of Voters Barbara Levey, there are still a handful of mail-in and provisional votes that need to be processed, but not enough to make a difference.

“We were hoping to get at least what we got in the last elections, but that wasn’t the case, so we are a bit disappointed,” Levey said.

This year, there were 94,779 registered voters in Merced County, with 37,993 registered to vote by mail. The latest available numbers showed that just 23,235 votes were cast in Tuesday’s election.

Levey explained that a low turnout is not uncommon for primary elections. As to why the turnout was so low, Levey said that many times residents believe their vote doesn’t count, especially in the primaries.

“When you look at the primary elections from the last few years, we’ve typically had a low turnout,” Levey said. “People seem to wait until the general elections to come out and vote, so hopefully we’ll have a much better turnout in November.”

A low number of voters at the polls Tuesday was a trend not exclusive to Merced County, she said. “As we kept track of voting across the state, there seemed to be a low turnout everywhere,” she said. “But it’s not unusual to see this happen.”

Levey said county officials have started to work on the next election. She urges residents who did not vote on Tuesday to register and head to the polls in November.

“If there are folks who were thinking about coming out to vote, but were not registered, they now have plenty of time to do so before the next elections,” she said.

The general election will be Nov. 4. Voter registration forms must be postmarked by Oct. 20, and requests for a mail-in ballot must be in by Oct. 28.

Anyone with questions about registration or mail-in voting in Merced County can visit the county’s website or call the county’s Voter Registration Office at (209) 385-7541.

Sun-Star staff writer Ana B. Ibarra can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or aibarra@mercedsunstar.com .

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