Record low turnout predicted for primary election

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SAN DIEGO — Local political researchers say local turnout for Tuesday California primary election could sink to an historic low, though San Diego County election officials are more optimistic.

voterRegistrar of Voters Michael Vu projected Monday that 35 percent of registered voters would cast a ballot in theprimary election. Vu, who last week said turnout could reach 38 percent, told City News Service Monday he expects it to be more like 35 percent. Similar types of primary elections in recent years have been within the 35-38 percent range, Vu said.


He said around 220,000 of the 840,000 absentee ballots that were mailed to voters have been returned as of today. That’s 14 percent of the electorate, according to Vu.

Meanwhile, the National University System Institute for Policy Research cited “local voter fatigue and low-profile contests” in predicting turnout of 18-23 percent.

“Voter fatigue is negatively impacting election turnout in San Diego,” said Vince Vasquez, who authored a report on turnout for the institute. “We anticipate campaigns will be working up to the last hour, making phone calls and arrangements to get identified supporters to turn out to the polls and cast their ballots.”

In the last 18 months, San Diegans have selected a new mayor, a city councilwoman, a state senator and an assemblywoman — mostly in separate special elections. The mayor and council races each resulted in two votes, a primary election and a runoff.

The NUSIPR study found that more Democratic absentee ballots had been returned in the city of San Diego than Republican ones, but GOP mail ballot returns were ahead in the two most contested City Council races.

On Friday, John Nienstedt of Competitive Edge Research predicted turnout of around 22-26 percent, based on trends at the time. Today, the projection was edged upward to 25-27 percent in the city of San Diego, and around 28 percent for the county as a whole.

A couple of percentage points could be added in city of San Diego areas like Pacific Beach, Point Loma and Mira Mesa, the sites of the competitive City Council races, Nienstedt said.

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