December 4, 2008 - Election turnout is the highest in decades
Paper: Ventura County Star (CA)
Title: Election turnout is the highest in decades
Date: December 4, 2008
Author: Tony Biasotti ; tbiasotti@VenturaCountyStar.com
All the signs before last month's presidential election pointed to a fantastically high turnout - from the enthusiasm on both sides to the novelty of a ballot with both a black candidate and a female one.
Turnout was higher than it had been in decades, both nationwide and in Ventura County, according to the county's final vote tally certified Tuesday by County Clerk-Recorder Phil Schmit.
Turnout in the county, however, was only a bit higher than in 2004, when George W. Bush and John Kerry were on the ballot. On Nov. 4, 80.7 percent of registered county voters - 343,690 out of 425,968 - cast ballots, compared with 79.3 percent four years ago.
The national increase was similarly modest - an increase of less than 1 percent, according to a study by American University political scientist Curtis Gans.
Still, it was the highest turnout in the county since 1980, when 82.3 percent of registered voters cast ballots, Assistant Registrar of Voters Tracy Saucedo said.
Schmit said he was pleased with the county's turnout, even though it fell short of his pre-election prediction of 83 percent. The turnout was equal to 65.7 percent of eligible voters , since not every eligible voter is registered.
"The turnout was great, and that didn't surprise me because of the interest that was shown in this election," Schmit said. "You had two new candidates, no incumbent, and it really brought out a lot of younger voters ."
With Barack Obama's victory in the county over John McCain, local voters have now picked the winner in 20 of the past 21 presidential elections.
Meanwhile, absentee voting has become almost as common as traditional voting. Last month, 43.5 percent of the ballots cast were either mailed in or filled out at home and delivered to a polling place. "That's the trend of the future," Schmit said.
But more absentee ballots means a longer wait for election results, because the envelopes must be opened by hand and the signatures verified.
Record Number: 214363
Copyright, 2008, Ventura County Star