According to unofficial polling results released Wednesday, June 6, by the San Joaquin County Registrar’s Office, there were 271,250 registered voters eligible to participate in Tuesday’s election. Of them, 70,252 voters — just short of 26 percent — cast a ballot Tuesday.
During the Feb. 2008 presidential primary, which was more hotly contested, about 54 percent of the county’s 245,781 registered voters submitted a ballot.
Austin Erdman, the San Joaquin County registrar of voters, said Wednesday that the low voter turnout was “happening, apparently, all over Northern California.”
At the state level, only 24 percent of 17,153,699 registered voters participated in Tuesday’s election.
Erdman said he thought the lack of competition among the presidential frontrunners, Democratic candidate President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney, kept people at home.
“Basically, the top of the ticket drives the ballot … and that’s already been decided,” he said.
Erdman also speculated that many voters decided to forgo the primary because in all the races, except for the presidential election, the top two candidates will have a runoff Nov. 6.
“The only (campaigns) that are really hotly contested are the local races,” he said. “But those, people seem to think those are going to the runoff, so it doesn’t really matter there, either. From what I’m hearing, it’s going to be a huge November election.”
A new aspect of Tuesday’s election was a top-two open primary system, in which the top vote-getters, regardless of party, advance to November.
“What we’re finding is the fact that people are pretty straightforward and understand what’s going on,” Erdman said.
Mandy Maxson, 27, of Tracy, said she liked the two-candidate selection system and thought voters should be able to vote outside of their registered party’s line.
“I mean, it’s totally fair,” she said after casting her vote Tuesday at a Tracy Boulevard polling place. “If you’ve got a bunch of people going against you and voting to get you out, then that’s totally fair, because we are all Americans and we all get an opinion.”
Juan Guerrero said he preferred the old system, with all main parties guaranteed to be represented on a November general election ballot.
“I like the primary where you vote your party candidate in and decide from there, rather than maybe letting a single party monopolize the seats,” said the 51-year-old. “It’s more of a choice, because there aren’t that many people now that accept a party platform; there is a lot of diversity. Giving people that choice is important.”