Voter participation in the June 5 election was higher for both Tuolumne and Calaveras counties than any midterm primary of the past 20 years.

The counties each saw a sharp increase in the turnout of registered voters over the 2014 midterm primary election and are on track to be well above the statewide percentage, which currently stands at 37 percent based on unofficial results.

Official results for Tuolumne County were finalized Thursday and showed 52 percent of registered voters and 39 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot, up about 10 percentage points and 3,800 voters from the election in June 2014.

Calaveras County’s official results showed 56 percent of registered voters and 44 percent of eligible voters participated in the June 5 election, also up about 10 percentage points and 3,380 voters from four years ago.

“I don’t know if it was just that the supervisor districts were a little hot and heavy, or people were more interested in it,” said Debi Bautista, registrar of voters for Tuolumne County.

The races for Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors each had more than two candidates on the ballot this year, with three running in District 2 and four in District 3.

About 52 percent of the 6,159 registered voters cast a ballot in District 2, which includes Soulsbyville and residential neighborhoods like Willow Springs, Cedar Ridge, Crystal Falls and Phoenix Lake Estates.

However, 256 of the 3,204 registered voters in District 2 didn’t check a box for any of the three candidates in that race.

District 3 had a slightly higher participation rate than the county as a whole at about 53 percent of the 6,205 registered voters in the area that includes the communities of Tuolumne, Twain Harte, Mi-Wuk Village, Sierra Village, Pinecrest and Strawberry.

Of the 3,296 who participated in District 3, 182 didn’t vote for any of the four candidates vying to replace the incumbent, who did not run for re-election..

The districts with the highest and lowest turnouts didn’t have a supervisor’s race this year. The highest was District 4 at about 54 percent of the 6,191 registered voters, while the lowest was District 5 at about 50 percent of 6,276 registered voters.

About 48 percent of the 3,223 registered votes in the three-square-mile City of Sonora limits participated in the June 5 election, despite having a four-person race for two open seats on the Sonora City Council.

There were 724 under votes in that race that potentially could have been caused by people voting for only one candidate as opposed to two.
The highest number of under votes in a competitive local race was for treasurer-tax collector, where 2,417 people decided not to bother checking a box for either of the two candidates.

Despite the higher turnout over the past four midterm primary elections, Bautista noted there’s still room for improvement when less than half of those eligible to vote actually cast a ballot.

“There’s still almost two who aren’t voting for every one that does,” Bautista said.

The percentage of eligible voters who registered to vote in the latest election was about on par with the state in Tuolumne County and slightly higher in Calaveras County.

There were 30,932 total registered voters in Tuolumne County out of 41,140 who were eligible, or 75.19 percent, which was slightly less than the 75.73 percent of eligible voters who registered throughout the state.

In Calaveras County, 78.8 percent registered to vote of the 36,104 who were eligible.

The Democratic Party has lost the most support of all political parties in both counties since the 2002 midterm primary election, the earliest statistics available through the California Secretary of State’s website.

Democrats accounted for 40 percent of the eligible voters in Tuolumne County who registered for the 2002 midterm primary, which dropped to 31 percent for the 2014 primary and continued to decline to 30 percent this year.

Calaveras County experienced a similar decrease in the percentage of voters registering as Democrats in midterm primaries, from about 37 percent in 2002 to 30 percent in 2014 and 28 percent in the latest election on June 5.

Republicans comprised about 42 percent of registered voters in both counties in 2002 and 2018 midterm primaries, though the percentage of nonpartisan voters listed as “no party preference” was higher.

In the 2002 midterm primary, nonpartisan voters accounted for about 12 percent of the total in Calaveras County and 11 percent in Tuolumne County. That number is now about 21 percent for both.

The final results didn’t change the outcomes of races in either county.

Contact Alex MacLean at amaclean@uniondemocrat.com or (209) 588-4530.

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