Voter Turnout Was Abysmal - What's Your Excuse?

Marin voter turnout was among the lowest in history, so we're asking Mill Valley Patch readers why they voted — and why they didn't.

Marin County Registrar Elaine Ginnold didn't hesitate to sum up the turnout from Tuesday's primary election.

"It was abysmal," she said Wednesday morning.

Preliminary results showed that 52,004 ballots were cast as of Tuesday night. Just 13.02 percent of the county's registered voters cast their ballots at the polls, Ginnold said, and 22.4 percent voted by mail, resulting in a total turnout of 35.42 percent.

Ginnold said the numbers will go up because 20,000 to 25,000 ballots still need to be counted, including several thousand provisional ballots.

She said 19,119 voters visited the polling stations Tuesday.

"I'd say it's probably the lowest in history for a presidential primary election," Ginnold said. "I was shocked. It was very hard to predict what was going to happen because it was the first top-two primary we've had (for the Congressional race)."

The election featured little of local importance for Mill Valley voters, with no City Council or Mill Valley School District seats open or any related ballot measures. Marin County Supervisor Kate Sears, who represents Mill Valley, ran unopposed in seeking his first elected term as she was appointed in May 2011 after the death of Charles McGlashan.

President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney were on the ballots for their respective party's nomination, but with Obama facing no serious opposition for the nomination and Romney having already locked off the Republican nod, those races drew little interest.

, D-San Rafael, received the most votes for a U.S. Congressional seat and is headed to a November general-election showdown with second-place finisher Dan Roberts, a Republican from Tiburon.

Also, Marin County Supervisor  was reelected to represent District 5, which includes Homestead Valley, by defeating Corte Madera resident Diane Furst and garnering 63 percent of the 7,500 votes cast. James Chou was elected as Marin Superior Court judge, and Marc Levine and Michael Allen were in a tight race for state Assembly seat representing Marin.

Ginnold said in 2008 there was a presidential primary in February and a direct primary for everything else in June, and the June one also resulted in a turnout of about 13 percent.

About 25 people scurried around the registrar's office Tuesday night, taking inventory of ballots and supplies being dropped off from polling stations. The last batch of ballots arrived at about 10:45 p.m., she said.

Many voters dropped off completed ballots at polling places on Tuesday. That method, combined with absentee voting and casting ballots in person, leaves voters plenty of options to participate in our democratic form of government, she said.

"We're making it as convenient as we possibly can," she said. "Why don't more people vote? That's a really good question."

With so much on the line, Patch would like to know whether or not you voted, and why you did not. Please answer the appropriate poll question below, and leave a comment to explain your choice.

Kelly O'Mara June 07, 2012 at 12:44 AM
Hey, how did 19K voters cast over 30K ballots (if the 22% otherwise were vote by mail). And if there were 50K ballots and that's only 13% of registered voters, doesn't that suggest there's over 400K registered voters in Marin. How could that be right?
Rico June 07, 2012 at 01:30 AM
Excellent point Kelly ! I actually did vote this election on only 2 things: NO on Prop 29 and to write in Ron Paul for nominee for president. I know my right to vote is important, but most all of the politicians that have been voted in have really let me down. I did not vote for any supervisor for Marin the last time, let the politicians play their games, get elected and the bring on the disasters, loie Shell Oil/MEA/MCE, the SMART train, the desalination plant, high speed rail, southern California water diversion, One Bay Area plan, county computer fiascoes, and Obama for ordering computer virus attacks on Iran''s nuclear facilities ! Then the anti SmartMeter activists claim that power grids have been attacked (in Iran by Obama). It's too much. No, I have lost faith in voting, especially when certain politicians create there own "special train tax districts" like they did with SMART. That took the cake.
Frank Lurz June 07, 2012 at 04:30 PM
I voted. Perhaps people didn't vote because they never had to pay for the privilege. I gave three years of my life to this country during the war in Vietnam. I have to believe the years I lost were not an entire waste; they have to have bought more than just a pat on the back and a "thank you for your service." I know in the face of crooked politicians and the political influence bought by the massively wealthy my vote doesn't count for much, but adding it to the votes of others gives it weight. It's the only weapon most of us have with which to fight back. It will be a cold day in hell before I throw mine away!
Bill McGee June 07, 2012 at 06:45 PM
52,004 ballots were cast = 35.42% voter turnout (according to the story). 52,004 divided by 35.42% = 146,821 total registered voters (according to the story). 146,821 x 13.02% = 19,116 votes cast in-person at the polls. 146,821 x 22.04% = 32,888 mail-in votes counted Total votes = 52,004. The math seems to pencil out to me.
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