Primary election sees higher number of ballots cast, lower voter turnout

Amelia Baum/Staff

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In Tuesday’s election, Alameda County saw a higher number of ballots submitted but a lower overall voter turnout than in the previous election year.

According to data updated by the Alameda County registrar of voters on Wednesday, voter turnout for the 800,000 registered voters in Alameda County was 30.5 percent. This number falls slightly below the Alameda County voter turnout of the primary elections of 2012, which stood at 31.8 percent.

“There was a lot of excitement about this race, and there are a lot of younger voters and locals who were excited about the candidates in the area,” said Guy Ashley, a spokesperson for the county registrar of voters.

Online election results are currently semi-official, and the number of ballots statewide have yet to be processed, according to Tim Dupuis, this year’s registrar of voters. He added that he expects the final voter turnout in Alameda County to be equal to the voter turnout seen in 2012.

Rigel Robinson, CalSERVE senator and founder of UC Berkeley Students for Bernie said the group has managed to newly register 1,500 UC Berkeley students to vote in the past academic year.

“Young people tend to have the lowest levels of voter turnout, but we are the ones likely to most directly experience the results and ramifications of elections,” Robinson said. “We regularly see higher voter turnout in our student government elections than our real elections, which is a bit embarrassing.”

Since January, the number of registered voters in Alameda County has increased by about 30,000 people, according to Dupuis, most likely due to the general elections in November.

According to campus political science professor Jack Citrin, the increase of voter registration is easy to predict because of the amount of effort the presidential candidates put into mobilizing registration.

“We saw a big surge in young people and Latinos, who are typically not high-voting populations,” Citrin said.

About half of the voters in Alameda County are registered as Democrats. Of the Democratic voters there was a 36.7 percent turnout for the primary elections.

Alameda County also saw an increase in voters’ willingness to vote through a newly installed 24/7 ballot drop box in Downtown Berkeley, Dupuis added. More than 60 percent of Alameda County voters submit their ballot by mail.

“The feedback we’ve gotten about the boxes has been overwhelmingly good,” Dupuis said.

Campus junior Boomer Vicente said many campus students choose to actively express their political opinions via social media, but he still saw a small turnout in local voting booths.

“There are millions of people who don’t have the privilege of voting that want certain things,” Vicente said. “Voting is just one of the ways people can be civically engaged.”

Contact Jessie Qian at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @jessieq96.