Alameda County still counting votes, predicts high voter turnout

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Karen Chow/Senior Staff

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Alameda County is still counting thousands of ballots for the midterm election, which is projected to feature extraordinarily high voter turnout.

Alameda County will count all mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day that it receives by Friday. Counting the ballots could take weeks, and counties have approximately one month to produce the final results. Tim Dupuis, the registrar of voters for Alameda County, estimated that the county still has a quarter of a million mail-in ballots to count.

As of press time, the ballots of nearly one-third of registered Alameda County voters — 255,442 votes out of 879,912 — have been counted, which amounts to a turnout of 29.03 percent. While these turnout numbers are not as high as the past two midterm elections, Dupuis said he predicts that once all votes are tallied, this year’s election will exceed turnout levels from the last midterm election in 2014.

“Oh, you’ll see (the current turnout number) change,” Dupuis said. “The turnout has been very good. This is definitely higher than the last midterm election in 2014, so we’re seeing good voter participation in this election.”

During the 2014 midterm election, 45.03 percent of registered voters in Alameda County voted. Dupuis credits the high number of ballots yet to be counted to a steady increase in absentee voters — voters who vote by mail — in the state. In the 2010 election, 48.44 percent of California voters submitted absentee ballots. Dupuis said that up to 71 percent may have voted by mail for this year’s midterm.

“Probably, a large number of vote-by-mail voters are dropping their ballots on Election Day,” Dupuis said. “That’s why we’re seeing such a large number of votes still to be counted after Election Day.”

Campus activists in the ASUC and California Public Interest Research Group, or CalPIRG, reported that student voters were more energized and engaged this election. The two organizations worked together to help register more than 2,000 student voters. CalPIRG and the ASUC tabled, put on events and hosted information sessions to help make voting fun and accessible to a diverse array of students.

The ASUC and CalPIRG said that, in the future, they will advocate for institutional changes that will make voting more accessible. This could including advocating for automatic voting registration, according to ASUC External Affairs Vice President Nuha Khalfay.

Serena Solorzano, communications director of CalPIRG at UC Berkeley, said she thought that renewed interest in this year’s election may have been a product of frustration with the result of the 2016 election.

“This election has felt very different from past elections,” Solorzano said. “In the last one, a lot of people I knew weren’t happy with the candidates, and they chose to be complacent and chose not to vote. There was not energy about voting and about elections. I think this time people were reminded that if you don’t vote then your voice isn’t heard.”

Contact Sam Levin at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @SamJLevin.