The Santa Barbara County residents who went to the polls Tuesday managed to beat the predicted voter turnout for the county in California’s primary election.
Of the 188,432 registered voters in Santa Barbara County, 45.9 percent cast their ballots in this election. The statewide turnout, however, was considerably lower; as of 3:31 a.m. Wednesday, with 20,748 of California’s 21,796 precincts reporting, votes had been counted for just 37 percent of registered voters. Polling places serving UCSB and Isla Vista reported a total of 3,072 ballots cast.
All but one of Santa Barbara’s 355 precincts had submitted their results by about 10 p.m.; a problem in a Santa Maria precinct delayed the vote count there for another half hour. The totals for the county also included over 35,000 absentee votes that were collected prior to the election. Joe Holland, the Santa Barbara County clerk-recorder-assessor, said poll workers would most likely be counting late-arriving absentee ballots for another week or more.
Holland said the final turnout for the county was 3 percent higher than the figure forecasted by the California Secretary of State’s office. He said that although it was higher than the 36 percent turnout in the election two years ago, he was not completely satisfied with the improvement.
“It’s less than I would have liked, but the people who did vote got their voices heard,” Holland said.
Linda Phillips was an inspector at the polls at Francisco Torres Residence Hall, one of several voting locations in Isla Vista. Inspectors, she said, are workers who are assigned to oversee voting efforts for a certain precinct or precincts. Phillips said she was not particularly impressed by the 600 people that had voted at FT by 6:15 p.m., but that she had nothing to compare the number to.
“It’s not a huge turnout, but I don’t know if it’s any higher or lower than usual,” Phillips said.
However, junior film studies major Mike Hood said he thought the line of people waiting to vote at FT was much longer than it had been in previous years.
“I’ve been voting here for three years,” Hood said. “It seems like a lot bigger turnout than any of the other years.”
Hood said he suspected that the Democratic primary and 3rd District supervisor race were partially responsible for the increased number of voters.
“I live in a house of eight people, and they are all voting in this election,” Hood said. “Everyone seems really interested in the primaries and the supervisor race.”
Alex Small, an inspector who oversaw polling at the Korean Methodist Church on Camino del Sur, said the turnout for the two precincts represented at the church was unusually large.
“One of the two precincts got close to 50 percent,” Small said. “Most of the day was pretty intense.”
At the University Religious Center on Camino Pescadero, inspector Marc Chytilo said he was pleased with this election’s turnout but that it was not exactly record-breaking.
“It’s slightly above the expectations for our precinct,” Chytilo said. “There was a continuous stream of people coming in at some points, but we never had a line out the door.”