Early voting numbers in parts of the Bay Area seem to indicate that turnout for Tuesday’s general election could be on the low side, but some officials expect a last-minute boost from in-person voters.
With less than 24 hours before people are allowed to vote in person, only about 25 percent of voters had so far cast ballots by mail or by using drop boxes in Santa Clara, Contra Costa and San Francisco counties.
“It’s super-low turnout currently,” said Dawn Kruger, spokesperson for the Contra Costa County Registrar of Voters. “We’ve had early voting since Oct. 10 and as of Saturday, returns were at something like 25 percent.”
Historically, midterm election turnout is lower than in presidential races, with only 49 percent of registered Contra Costa voters participating in the 2014 elections, for example.
The 2018 midterm elections were maybe the exception that proves the rule, with more than 68 percent of voters casting ballots, Kruger said.
Still, Kruger thinks many people are still working their way through this election’s hefty ballot and will show up Tuesday to help improve turnout at least somewhat.
“In my own totally informal, non-scientific poll of my own neighbors and friends, a lot of them said ‘Oh, we’re turning it in, we haven’t actually sat down with it yet,’” Kruger said. “These ballots have a lot on them.”
In Santa Clara County, about 25.33 percent of voters have already turned in their ballots, and while elections officials expect decent numbers of in-person voters on Tuesday, it still looks to be a pretty typical midterm turnout.
“We have a lot of people who really care about what they’re voting for and want to read through all the information to make sure they’re making the correct choice,”Steve Goltiao, Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters spokesperson
“Based on some of the data we were getting a couple weeks ago, we’re looking at an expected 55 to 65 percent (turnout) for this general election,” said Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters spokesperson Steve Goltiao. “It’s kind of on the lower side.”
It’s possible, however, for those percentages to improve based on how voters behaved in the June primary.
While only about 35 percent of Santa Clara County voters participated in that election, roughly 45 percent of total ballots came in on Election Day, Goltiao said.
“We have a lot of people who really care about what they’re voting for and want to read through all the information to make sure they’re making the correct choice,” he said.
Goltiao said people can still vote by mail but their ballot envelopes have to be postmarked no later than Nov. 8 and arrive at the registrar’s office by Nov. 15.
San Francisco Department of Elections Director John Arntz also expects a decent bump from Tuesday’s in-person voters.
“Our turnout is 25 percent as of this morning, however the turnout in the 2018 election was 24 percent at the same point in time and the overall turnout for that election was 74 percent,” Arntz said.
“Even though we’re at 25 percent, I expect it to be much higher after tomorrow is done,” Arntz said. “In 2018, we had a mountain of ballots to process. It could happen again.”
Arntz said there’s still time to register and if someone has lost or made a mistake on their ballot they can still show up and vote in person Tuesday.
He also said anyone with any questions should call his department at 415-554-4375.