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Sonoma County election turnout expected to be close to 70% prediction, elections chief says

Press Democrat reporters recap the recall election in a Facebook Live video at bit.ly/2VKTyUD.

With tens of thousands of ballots from in-person voting and ballot drop boxes still uncounted, Sonoma County had reached around 47% voter turnout at 9 p.m. Tuesday night but was expected to go as high as 70%.

The early figure — which included 143,100 of Sonoma County’s 304,983 registered voters — captured only ballots that had arrived in the mail up to the end of Election Day, officials said.

Last week, Sonoma County Registrar of Voters Deva Proto had estimated a voter turnout of at least 70%, and in an election night phone interview she said the indication from polling places and drop boxes was that the county would reach that figure, which would imply there were at least 70,000 votes outstanding.

Polling places saw a “steady stream” of in-person votes and there were piles of ballots in drop boxes awaiting a count, she said.

The election is the second contest in which California election officials have mailed ballots to the state’s more than 22 million registered voters, according to the Los Angeles Times. Political analysts expected a larger in-person turnout from Republicans than Democrats today.

Interviews with voters in Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Sebastopol and Santa Rosa indicated Sonoma County voters were driven to the polls by a wide range of reasons Tuesday.

Voters expressed varying reasons for showing up in person, but many said it was simply their preferred method of carrying out their civic duty. “I want to vote in person like I have all my life,” Jean Irvine, 75, said outside a polling station in Rohnert Park.

A few people, like Arianna Williamson, a 23-year-old who had just moved to Rohnert Park after time in various other addresses, said their mail ballots had simply never shown up. Williamson drove to the polling station to make sure her vote to keep Newsom in office counted, she said.

“Do I think Gavin Newsom has done best job? No,” she said. But Williamson had lost loved ones who died from COVID-19, she said, and found the candidates for the governor’s mansion who vocally opposed measures to slow the virus’s spread to be “deeply upsetting.”

Others, like Janet, a 59-year-old Petaluma resident who declined to share her last name, said they had turned out to oust Newsom. To her, Newsom was “hypocritical,” she said, for “giving us rules and not following them himself.” She cited Newsom’s infamous dinner at the French Laundry, in which he was photographed violating COVID-19 rules he had imposed on the state.

You can reach Staff Writer Andrew Graham at 707-526-8667 or andrew.graham@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @AndrewGraham88

Press Democrat reporters recap the recall election in a Facebook Live video at bit.ly/2VKTyUD.

Andrew Graham

City of Santa Rosa, The Press Democrat 

As Sonoma County's largest city, Santa Rosa, its policy and politics, crime and its economy affect the lives of North Bay residents both inside city limits and beyond in ways both obvious and unseen. I aim to document those impacts and give voice to city residents.

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