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Election chief predicts record low turnout Tuesday

Voting turnout in Tuesday’s election will reach record lows based on the anemic level of mail-in ballots returned so far, predicts Contra Costa County Registar of Voters Steve Weir.

Here’s what Weir, who is also president of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials, had to say in an e-mail a few minutes ago:

Lisa,

Turnout looks like it will be the lowest of any primary in the state’s history, and that’s against a very anemic decade of poor primary turnouts.

I’m still predicting a 37% for Contra Costa and a guestimate of 31% for the state.

We have received 87,666 against 231,893 issued or a return rate of 37.8%. So, I believe that we are still on track for a 50% return rate for vote-by-mail ballots. That would give us a 24% turn out.

If 25% of the remaining voters go to the polls, we’ll reach 37%. (That’s only 99 voters per poll site.)

Other registrars are indicating an even worse return rate.

So, I still expect Calif. to reach 31%, but I think my colleagues would question that fact.

Given that the June 7, 1994 Primary was 35.05%, June 2, 1998 was 42.49%, March 5, 2002 was 34.59%, and June 6, 2006 was 33.63%, one could easily argue that the turn out will be in the high 20’s.

I’m going to argue that because so many vote-by-mail ballots have been issued, and given that some members of the public vote out of a sense of patriotic duty, we’re plumbing the bottom of turnout at this election.

Steve