Orange County voter turnout in the June 5 primary election was the highest in 16 years, with 38.4 percent of active registered voters casting ballots, according to the latest estimate by election officials.
Prior to Election Day, Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley said he anticipated turnout at between 27 percent and 30 percent of the 1.48 million active registered voters.
But the election had the largest mid-term primary election turnout since 2002, when 41.4 percent of the county’s active voters cast ballots, according to the Registrar of Voters online archives. The lowest mid-term voter turnout since 1990 was in 2014 when only about 24 percent of voters cast ballots.
About 77 percent of the total estimated ballots cast in last week’s primary were counted as of Saturday, the latest update, according to the Registrar of Voters.
Mid-term elections usually have a lower turnout than presidential election years, a tradition that favors Republicans who have a history of showing up in higher percentages than Democrats.
Still incomplete election ballot counting indicates Democrats will challenge the Republican hold on four Orange County Congressional seats as part of a national campaign to secure at least 23 seats and gain control of the 435-member House of Representatives.
The closest race, as of Saturday night June 9, was between Democrats Hans Keirstead and Harley Rouda to see which one will challenge Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) in November. When counting stopped for the weekend, Keirstead was 87 votes ahead of Rouda, 21,893 votes to 21,806. Keirstead had 17.3 percent of the vote and Rouda had 17.2 percent.
A little over 1 percentage point behind them was Republican Scott Baugh with 20,332 votes or 1,561 fewer than Keirstead. Baugh had 16 percent of the total vote counted so far.
In other local races, a Democrat likely will challenge a Republican for a north Orange County seat on the Board of Supervisors, striving to be the first Democrat on the five-member board in more than a decade.
In the 4th supervisor district contest, Republican Tim Shaw, mayor of La Habra, led with 21.2 percent followed by Democrats Doug Chaffee, mayor of Fullerton, with 20.7 percent and Democrat Joe Kerr with 19.9 percent.
Chaffee trailed Shaw by 240 votes when counting stopped for the weekend and Kerr was 462 votes behind Chaffee.
Undersheriff Donald Barnes held 50.6 percent of the vote for county Sheriff. If the final tally gives him more than 50 percent of the total vote, he automatically will be elected. In county-level races where candidates receive less than 50 percent in the primary, the top two face each other in a November runoff.
The next Orange County vote update will be at 5 p.m. Monday. San Diego and San Bernardino counties also will provide Monday updates but Los Angeles County won’t post it’s next count until Tuesday.
Nick Gerda covers county government and Santa Ana for Voice of OC. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spencer Custodio is a Voice of OC reporter who covers south Orange County and Fullerton. You can reach him a email@example.com
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