Contra Costa County elections guru Steve Weir predicts a 60 percent turnout in the general election, a below-average result, according to his observations of the season so far. Read on for his full comments:
Eighteen days out and I am seeing signs of interest in this election.
Our phones have been busier than we thought and we have brought in extra help to keep up with the calls. We have a call waiting, calls dropped feature on our phone system management program and we are watching our calls closely.
We have issued over 258,000 vote by mail ballots. The return rate for the first week (last week) was below normal. However, we were slower than average in getting the Permanent Vote by Mail Ballots out.
Contrary to past experiences, the Republicans are returning their early ballots at a higher rate (as a percent of those issued) than are the Democrats. Traditionally, Democrats tend to return their ballots earlier than the Republicans, and the Republicans catch up as surpass the Democrats as election day draws closer.
On the registration front, registration has remained strong through the Spring and early Summer as petition drives accounted for strong registration activity. Over the past 42 days, we have had a net gain in over 6,000 registrations and they are coming in every day. (Monday is the deadline.)
We have identified some problem issues associated with partisan registration drives and we have turned over our documents to the fraud unit of the Secretary of State.
At the 60 day registration close (Sept 3), our registration was roughly 50.3% Democratic, 26% Republican and 20% DTS. The some 6,000 additional registrations are coming in at 57% Republican, 23% Democratic, and 20% DTS. This has shifted our overall Democratic registration down 3 tenths of a percent and shifted our overall Republican registration up 3 tenths of a percent.
The press has asked me about vote by mail from a statewide perspective. As of this morning, with state registration just under 17,000,000, registrars have issued over 7 million vote by mail ballots.
LA has 4.4 million registered voters and has issued 815,000 vote by mail ballots. The nine Bay Area Counties have 3.5 million registered voters and has issued 1.95 million vote by mail ballots. So, with 900,000 fewer voters, we have issued over 1.1 million more vote by mail ballots than LA.
On a statewide perspective, Southern California has 9.5 million registered voters and collectively, has issued 3,050,000 VBM ballots. Northern California has 7.5 million registered voters and collectively, has issued 4,000,000 vote by mail ballots.
This could be the first statewide general election where we reach 50/50% (VBM to Precinct Votes) or higher for VBM.
At this time, I am estimating a 60% turnout (below average) and 60% of that being cast by mail for Contra Costa. That would yield a total vote in Contra Costa of about 318,600 votes; 191,160 by mail and 127,440 at the polls.
I’ll revisit my data next week and update these estimates.