Local Election

Fresno County officials ready precincts for Tuesday’s election

John Hix, 83, of Easton, drops off his ballot at the Fresno County Clerk’s office Monday afternoon.
John Hix, 83, of Easton, drops off his ballot at the Fresno County Clerk’s office Monday afternoon. jwalker@fresnobee.com

Eager to make her choice for Fresno mayor and the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, Linda Sanchez jumped the gun on Tuesday’s primary election and voted a day early at the Fresno County clerk’s office.

Sanchez, who lives in Fresno, said she voted for former Fresno City Councilman Henry R. Perea for mayor and Bernie Sanders as the Democratic presidential nominee.

A steady stream of people came to the clerk’s office to vote or drop off absentee ballots, with employee Josie Vasquez estimating 80 or so people had come by 2 p.m.

By Monday morning, turnout countywide was at 15.4 percent, with 63,597 ballots returned out of a total of 213,447 registered to vote by mail, County Clerk Brandi Orth said. There are about 414,000 registered voters in the county, Orth said.

“In the primary of ’08, we had a 50 percent turnout, and that’s when Mr. Obama was first elected,” Orth said. “And I thought because all the candidates that we’ve seen lately – I was projecting 60 percent, but you never know.”

In the last presidential primary election in 2012, around 113,000 people voted out 390,579 total registered voters in Fresno County, a turnout of 29 percent.

Statewide, counties reported 10.3 million mail ballots were issued and around 2.6 million were returned by around 1 p.m. Monday, the Secretary of State’s Office said.

Faith in Community, a coalition of local religious groups, has been trying to increase turnout among low-propensity voters. On May 21 and Saturday, volunteers went to neighborhoods throughout Fresno, primarily in south Fresno, knocking on doors to encourage residents to get out to vote.

“We’ve been specifically targeting those people that have been ignored,” said Thomas Weiler, the group’s lead organizer. “We’re after those that feel excluded from the decision-making process.”

Weiler said those groups that haven’t generally been included in candidates’ campaigns include people with low incomes, minorities and people living in south Fresno.

Faith in Community volunteers knocked on a total of 1,500 homes. They presented a listing of positions taken by mayoral candidates Perea, Lee Brand and H. Spees.

The lack of political engagement among many people made the information sheet critical to Faith in Community’s efforts, Weiler said.“These people haven’t been exposed to the candidates,” Weiler said.

Fresno resident David Buchanan, who has lived in the central San Joaquin Valley since 2008, went to the clerk’s office to cast his vote Monday.

Buchanan said he would be voting for Perea for mayor and Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential primary.

“The minimum-wage issue is very important to me, to increase it to $15 an hour,” Buchanan said. He added that the decriminalization of marijuana was his next-highest priority.

In addition to the mayoral race, Fresno County voters will pick two new members of the Board of Supervisors.

On Tuesday, there will be 291 polling places in Fresno County and around 1,800 precinct workers. Last week, the county clerk’s office put out a request for precinct volunteers.

“It’s too late now; we’ve got to go with what we’ve got,” Orth said. “But I think we have enough volunteers. Polls open tomorrow at 7 a.m. and we’re ready.”

Razi Syed: 559-441-6679, @razisyed

California primary election

Election Day: Tuesday

Polls open: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday. Voters who have mail-in ballots can drop them off at any polling location. (Mail-in ballots must be delivered or postmarked on Election Day to be counted.)

Get help: For more information, voters in the central San Joaquin Valley can contact their elections officials.

ONLINE

Keep up with all the action at www.fresnobee.com/election (Local News/Election 2016 on your mobile app), including:

Get informed: Learn about the candidates with The Bee’s Voter Guide. Candidates share their platforms in many high-profile races. fblinks.com/vguide

Get involved: Read past coverage of key races.

COUNTY ELECTION OFFICES

Fresno: 2221 Kern St., Fresno; fblinks.com/fcvote or 559-600-VOTE (8683)

Tulare: 5951 S. Mooney Blvd., Visalia; fblinks.com/tcvote or 559-624-7300

Kings: 1400 W. Lacey Blvd., Hanford; fblinks.com/kingvote or 559-852-4401

Madera: 200 W. Fourth St., Madera; fblinks.com/madvote or 559-675-7720

Merced: 2222 M St., Merced; fblinks.com/mervote or 209-385-7541

Mariposa: 4982 10th St., Mariposa; fblinks.com/marvote or 209-966-2007

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