63 percent of Nevada County voters went to polls | SierraSun.com

63 percent of Nevada County voters went to polls

Christina Nelson

A little after 9 p.m. on Nov. 5, five Truckee residents waited in the ballot counting room on the second floor of the courthouse.

“So, we’re OK on the hanging chads?” asked Perry Christensen, an election worker in charge of making sure the optical scan ballots didn’t have defects that would clog up the counting machine.

Some people were reading magazines, some were chatting with the election workers while they waited for pollworkers from Truckee’s 13 precincts to turn in sealed boxes of ballots.

“You have the school board and the town council here in Truckee and those are going to affect our lives more significantly than Mr. Simon or Mr. Davis,” said Truckee resident Jim Mass.

A former teacher, Mass said he would have advised his students to get out and vote because of local issues, not necessarily because of the governor’s race.

The clerk’s office cannot confirm the number of Truckee voters this cycle until county-wide absentee ballots are counted. Absentee ballot counting should be complete tomorrow.

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Low voter turnout was expected, and confirmed, in California this election – But Nevada County may have been the exception tot he rule.

Sixty-three percent of the 60,451 registered voters in Nevada County cast ballots in the gubernatorial general election, about 7 percent higher than the statewide average.

“It’s gone down a little bit, but there’s been an historical trend,” said Lorraine Jewett-Burdick, Nevada County clerk recorder.

Off-cycle elections typically draw fewer voters, she said. The 2000 presidential election saw an 80 percent voter turnout in Nevada County.

“Nevada County voters take their right to vote seriously and we consistently have a higher voter turnout than the rest of the state,” Jewett-Burdick said.

Presidential election turnout typically remains around the 80 percent mark in Nevada County, but gubernatorial election turnout has fluctuated for the last 20 years.

Since 1990, voter turnout during off-cycle elections has declined.

The California county with the highest voter turnout this year was Alpine County, which saw over 70 percent of registered voters at the polls this election.

“Because of our weather and our situation in the mountains … we see a disproportionate number of absentee voters and that raises voter turnout by at least 10 points,” said Nancy Lundgren, president of the Truckee Tahoe Republican Women Federated.

Both Nevada and Placer counties voted Republican in all statewide races – even though California has been touted the state that “bucked” the Republican trend.

Fifty-two percent of Nevada County voted for Bill Simon for governor, while 60.9 percent voted for him in Placer County.

In the high profile state elections, Lundgren said the results were disappointing.

“It’s frustrating because you want to have some kind of clout and work closely with the executive branch,” Lundgren said.

She said that when Democrats are in power in the state, they tend to ignore republicans, and rural counties tend to vote Republican. (Nevada and Placer counties both have a registered Republican majority.)

Although Nevada County has only 1,916 registered Green Party members, over eight percent (about 3,000 voters) chose Peter Miguel Camejo, the Green Party candidate for governor.

Election results are unofficial until certified by county clerks after the state’s 28-day canvass period.