MARTINEZ, Calif. – If history repeats itself, Contra Costa County should exceed the national percentages for voter turnout in Tuesday’s election.
According to the United States Election Project’s numbers, 46.9 percent of national eligible voters did not participate in the 2016 presidential general election, leaving a little more than 53 percent deciding the races.
The Election Assistance Commission offered different numbers in its report to Congress, saying that in the 50 states, District of Columbia and four United States territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, the turnout was 63 percent of citizens of voting age.
By comparison, 64.71 percent of Contra Costa County’s eligible voters and 79.23 percent of registered voters turned out that year to vote. Those numbers are available from the Contra Costa County Elections Division.
Of the 607,515 registered to vote in the county’s 656 precincts two years ago and the 481,355 who did, 309,319 chose to vote by mail, with 172,036 deciding to visit their precinct polling sites.
But historically, presidential elections attract greater participation, and like 2014, this is a mid-term year.
While the entire House of Representatives and 33 of 100 seats in the U.S. Senate, as well as major state and local races and multiple ballot measures are before voters, the next presidential election is two years away.
In 2014, Contra Costa County’s turnout was much smaller. Of 718,685 elegible to vote and the 527,521 who were registered to vote, only 49.1 percent of registered voters cast ballots. The number is worse, 36.04 percent, if the turnout is considered for those who were eligible but had not registered in time to participate.
The tendency to vote by mail already was happening then. Of ballots cast, 165,617 Contra Costa County voters mailed them, while 93,390 chose to show up in person to cast their votes.
Registrar of Voters Joe Canciamilla said last week that he is seeing more enthusiasm for Tuesday’s election, even if it is a mid-term decision, and said turnout numbers could approach those of the Nov. 8, 2016 presidential election.
His contention is supported by Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government Institute of Politics, which suggested younger voters are showing greater interest in participating this year.
That poll noted that in the past only 18 percent of younger voters – those 30 or younger – usually bother to cast ballots, with turnouts higher in 1986 and 1994, reaching 21 percent. However, this year, that percentage could be as high as 40 percent, coming close to younger voters’ turnout in 2016.
Some states have seen voters complain their registration is incorrect – erroneous addresses, name spelling or other concerns, and some have said they’ve been dropped from rolls. That has led some advocates to urge voters to check their status before they try to vote.
Those who want to check whether they are registered correctly to vote Tuesday may do so on the California Secretary of State website, https://voterstatus.sos.ca.gov/. They also may check on the Contra Costa County Elections Division website at www.cocovote.us/registration-and-voting-options/my-voting-information/#VoterLookupand SampleBallotSearch.
Those who missed the Oct. 22 registration deadline may register up until Tuesday through the Conditional Voter Registration Process.
This also will allow people to update their voter registration information in time for the election.
According to Secretary of State Alex Padilla, those who missed the October registration deadline may go to the county elections office up to Tuesday to register, after which they may vote conditionally.
Their ballots will be processed once county officials complete the voter registration verification process, according to information from Padilla’s office.
Those interested in the Conditional Voter Registration Process may visit the Secretary of State website, www.sos.ca.govelections/voter-registration/conditional-voter-reg/, or visit the Contra Costa County Elections Division, 555 Escobar St., or call 925-335-7800.
Voting guides in several languages are available online at the Secretary of State website, http://www.voterguide.sos.ca.gov/.
For Contra Costa County elections, preview interviews videos are available online.
A list of decisions that Contra Costa County voters will decide is available online at https://www.cocovote.us/election/november-6-2018-statewide-general-election/#Election.
Those in Martinez voting by mail may drop off their ballots during business hours at the Martinez Senior Center, 818 Green St., Martinez, or at the county Elections Division. They also may deliver their mail-in ballots at any time at the drop-off box at the Contra Costa County Administration Building, 651 Pine St.
Polling sites will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday.