January 13, 2008 - Record high turnout expected
Paper: Twin City Times (CA)
Title: Record high turnout expected
Date: January 13, 2008
Author: Eiji Yamashita
A voter turnout of 60 to 70 percent is the latest projection Fresno County's election officials are giving for the upcoming primary, according to recent media reports. That might be too much of a stretch for Kings County, local elections officials said. But they, too, are predicting a high turnout, though more conservatively, at 55 to 60 percent on Feb. 5 -- a boost they say is spurred by the publicity of highly competitive races among both Democrats and Republicans.
Statewide, experts are predicting a turnout above 50 percent.
"Fifty percent is a good turnout for a primary. This year, it might go up to 55 to 60," said Kings County elections manager Edward Rose, a 30-year veteran in the field. "For us locally, we've had a good amount of press, and people are more aware of the presidential primary, although it is a new date."
Rose's projection is a significant increase over the county's 39.4 percent turnout for the March 2004 primary. The statewide turnout was 44.3 percent.
A high turnout of 51 percent was seen in Kings County in the 2000 primary, while the statewide turnout then was 53 percent.
Election officials have been kept busy thus far, said Kings County Clerk Ken Baird. But, he cautioned, that is not an indicator of a high turnout, he said.
"We've been busy all right, but it's sometimes hard to figure out what the voters are going to do," Baird said.
With the Feb. 5 primary almost three weeks away, 45,444 people have been registered to vote in Kings County. Of them, 21,685 are Republicans and 16,664 Democrats.
Mark DiCamillo, director of The Field Poll, said the high voter turnout hype stems from factors such as wide-open presidential contests among both Democrats and Republicans as well as California's move toward the front end of the presidential nominating calendar, which means voters could be casting their ballots while the race is still in play.
"Historically, California voters always voted after the presidential nominees have been selected," DiCamillo said. "But this year, California voters have a direct say in who will be the nominees. That's the main thing."
DiCamillo predicted a statewide voter turnout of "above 50 percent." But just how high above 50 percent is still in question, he added.
"We'll have to wait and see," DiCamillo said.
Copyright, 2008, Twin City Times