Pollsters: Local Voter Turnout May Be Less Than Lackluster

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    NEWSLETTERS

    When it comes to voter turnout, an election day that won’t give San Diego any bragging rights seems to be shaping up for Tuesday’s state primary, NBC 7's Gene Cubbison reports. (Published Monday, Jun 2, 2014)

     When it comes to voter turnout, an election day that won’t give San Diego any bragging rights seems to be shaping up for Tuesday’s state primary.

    At of the start of business at the County Registrar of Voters office Monday, only one in four mail ballots had been returned -- representing fewer than 14 percent of the turnout both countywide and in the city of San Diego.

    Registrar Michael Vu is projecting a slightly below-average 30 to 35 percent turnout for a gubernatorial primary.

    But pollsters at Competitive Edge Research & Communication are looking for turnout percentages in the mid-to-high 20s, while political scientists at National University are forecasting between 18 to 23 percent.

    June primaries in San Diego County generally attract turnouts in the mid-to high 30 percent range in years without a Presidential race.

    The reason cited first and foremost for this expected falloff – which some believe has the potential to reach record-low levels?

    “Voter fatigue” after five special elections throughout the county in 2013, and San Diego's special mayoral runoff in February.

    Pundits also are pointing to explanations such as too many unopposed or uninspiring candidacies and a long, 19-inch ballot listing many unfamiliar names.

    "For the office of Governor, there's 15 candidates on the ballot,” Vu said in an interview Monday. “So I think people are also sitting off to the side making sure that they're educated on which candidates they're going to be voting for."

    The eight propositions on county ballots – 2 statewide and six local, three in the city of San Diego – apparently haven’t featured the “hot-button” social divides “that would either anger people or motivate them to show up and cast their ballot,” says Vince Vasquez senior policy analyst at the National University System Institute for Policy Research.

    And, there are voters content to just skip the primary and wait to see what the November general election ballot looks like.

    Rancho Bernardo resident Lee Simon, interviewed Monday after he cast his ballot at the Registrar’s office in Kearny Mesa, says this about the strategy of defaulting until November: “The top two will be the ones that run off. And so if you don't vote for your choice, very likely you'll have the choice of the one you don't want -- and the worse one of those that you might have taken."

    So who will be the voters most likely to be missing in action Tuesday?

    "It's the nonpartisans -- those vaunted nonpartisans that people have been talking about,” says Competitive Edge’s polling guru John Nienstedt. “They're the ones that don't show up in these low-turnout elections. And you'll see a depressed turnout among them, with the highest turnout among Republicans."

    Walk-in voters who spoke with NBC 7 Monday don't cut any slack for people citing not only election fatigue, but other reasons such as boring candidate races, or too little time to study up on complex ballot issues.

    "It isn't that overwhelming, and I'm not a Ph.D,” said Lakeside resident Barbara DeYoung. “ But if I can figure this out, I'm sure anybody who sat down long enough would certainly be able to figure this out."

    Said El Cajon Resident Laura Wainscott: "I think people are just lazy to begin with, and in primaries they don't think it's important to get out and do something. But if they miss one election, they've got no right to complain about anything."