Local Primary Election Turnout Beat State, National Average

Santa Clara County’s voter turnout in June’s presidential primary election surpassed both the state and national average. Just about 55 percent of the county’s 788,000 registered voters cast a ballot—far more than in the 2012 primary.

Registrar of Voters Shannon Bushey shared the June 7 turnout rates with a host of other stats, charts and FAQs in her newly released post-election wrap-up.

Interestingly, more than a third of county voters registered without party affiliation opted to vote Democrat. Of the remaining crossovers, 63 percent voted nonpartisan, 2.8 American Independent and less than a half-percent Libertarian. The GOP got no crossover support because the party requires voters to register Republican.

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Because the election countywide and the state extended deadlines to mail ballots, the votes took longer to tally, per the report. Results were posted 16 days after election day.

Presidential election years offer a unique view of voter behavior and political leanings, the report notes. This year’s primary turnout was higher than in 2012 but less than that in 2008, when President Obama won the Democratic nomination leading up to his first term in the White House.

Source: Santa Clara County

Source: Santa Clara County

The past two presidential-year elections have seen an uptick in mail-in voter turnout, which has increasingly become more popular than polling place voting. This latest primary was no different.

Total registration increased by more than 4 percent in the two months leading up to June, per the report. By comparison, the 2008 and 2012 elections saw a 7 percent increase leading up to November.

Possibly because of intense interest in the intra-party contest between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders for the Dem nomination, more people chose to cast their votes at a physical polling place instead of mailing it in.

As usual, the ROV grappled with some complications. San Jose’s North Side City Council contest between incumbent Councilman Manh Nguyen and repeat challenger Lan Diep triggered an automatic recount. Unhappy with the results that deemed Diep the victor, Nguyen paid out of pocket for a second recount.

The latest on that drama: Nguyen’s suing the ROV and demanding a rematch in the Nov. 8 General Election.

Meanwhile, an unusually high number of state initiatives meant more work for county election officials, who had to review more than a million signatures in addition to their other duties.

Yet the ROV took it all in stride, Bushey stated.

“For an election encompassing 800,000 voters, more than 800 polling places and more than 430,000 ballots cast, the June 7 … election went as smoothly as could have been hoped,” she wrote in her takeaway summary. “Thousands of ROV staff members, election officers and Election Day volunteers worked tirelessly to prepare for, conduct and verify the election.”

To read a the report, click here.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. Fascinating

    How did Sylvia, not spending much money, and arranging for an Independent Expenditure committee, funded by charter schools, avoid scrutiny?

    Well, the jiggering in many areas, may have just helped.

    Ain’t she sweet
    See Sylvia get non existent voters from off the street.
    Now I ask you very confidentially,
    Ain’t Maggie’s flunky, very sweet.

    Ain’t it nice
    Look over the fact that John Shallman got paid to do mailers for one candidate by the Apartment Association, and then got paid to defeat his client, by another group, once or twice,
    Now I ask you very confidentially, ain’t this crooked, Carrasco.

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