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Local voter turnout light for primary

Nevada County election workers said voter turnout was slow but steady Tuesday, and the 11 different party-specific ballots available to voters did not pose many problems.

County Clerk Lorraine Jewett-Burdick said about 56 percent of registered voters turned out for Tuesday’s primary. Though the figure could change as the remaining ballots are counted, the turnout estimate is one of the lowest in Nevada County’s recent history of presidential primaries.

The March 2000 presidential primary election saw a 67 percent turnout. The lowest turnout for a recent presidential primary was 55.86 percent in June 1984, according to the Nevada County Elections Office Web site.



Turnout for the recall election in October 2003 was about 73 percent, according to the site.

In southern Nevada County on Tuesday, Higgins Corner poll worker Gary Clarke said only about 60 people had voted by 1 p.m. “It’s real light. That’s about half of what we normally get by now.”




Prior to Tuesday, the county Elections Office reported that 23,644 voters were using absentee ballots. That was 39 percent of the county’s 60,180 registered voters, many of whom were voting as absentees because of the county’s merging of precincts.

Sierra Pines Methodist Church poll worker Denna Squier said about 200 residents had voted by 1: 30 p.m., which was “right on par” with normal turnout.

At Alta Sierra, poll worker Keith Harris said, “It’s been a strange election. Usually we have people lined up at the door when we open and there were only four by 8 o’clock.” Only 260 had voted out of about 1,100 by 2 p.m.

About 5 p.m. at the County Superintendent of Schools office in Nevada City, election worker George Harper said, “It’s slow but steady, about 80 (voters), average for us. This is a small precinct.”

The myriad of ballots were not a problem there, said poll worker Lorraine Leval. “They’ve chosen before they came in.”

During rush hour at the Grass Valley Brighton Street Fire Station, election worker Lael Skeffington said the turnout had been “steady but slow. I thought with 11 ballots, we’d be in trouble, but it’s been really easy all day. People were knowledgeable.”

About 6 p.m., Penn Valley poll worker Silva Gryte said the turnout had been “a constant, steady stream all day”; the number of ballots was not a problem.

Turnout at the polls was light at the Nevada City Veterans Hall early in the day. Only about 150 people out of 864 had cast votes by about 2 p.m. in the basement polling place, where Nevada City residents with three-digit addresses voted.

But things were picking up by about 6 p.m. With two hours until the polls closed, 36 percent of the registered voters in the precinct had cast ballots.

Staff writer Jamie Bate contributed to this story.


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