California Voter Turnout at Higher End for Midterm Elections: Expert

A prominent political data expert expects turnout in California to near 60 percent, which is on the higher end for mid-term elections but not extraordinary.

Paul Mitchell says that's because some counties, including Orange, have exciting congressional races where turnout might near presidential levels.

But voters in other California counties are casting votes for a more routine slate of statewide office as well as 11 propositions.

The registration tally translates into about 78 percent of eligible voters, the highest percentage of registered voters in a midterm election since 1950. The number is likely buoyed by a new automatic voter registration program that registers eligible people who visit the Department of Motor Vehicles unless they opt out. 

Several county elections officers reported higher-than-usual activity.

San Diego County's Registrar of Voters Michael Vu said his office is expecting a 64 to 68 percent turnout. A total of 1.77 million voters were registered in San Diego County.

San Francisco Elections Director John Arntz said turnout might exceed the 61 percent reached in 2010. Voters were weighing a local measure, Proposition C, which would raise taxes on wealthy companies for homeless services. 

Tim Dupuis, the registrar of voters in Alameda County, told the San Francisco Chronicle that turnout was expected to reach 70 percent compared with 45 percent in 2014. The county includes Oakland, where voters were choosing a mayor. 

Mitchell said statewide turnout could range from 56 percent to 60 percent. He called it the tale of "two Californias."

Mitchell is vice president of the non-partisan research firm Political Data, Inc.

A spokesman with the Los Angeles County Registrar said the wait time at its headquarters in Norwalk was about two hours Tuesday. But he could not immediately confirm a Los Angeles Times reporter's account that people were receiving tickets to use the bathroom or get food without losing their spot or giving up entirely.

In Merced County, Democrats scrambled after an early morning break-in at a campaign office where computers and literature were stolen, affecting the campaign for state Senate candidate Ana Caballero.

But overall, glitches were few in a state with more than 19.6 million registered voters.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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