With the election certified and a month of hard work and angst behind, Olivia Hale and the staff at the San Joaquin County Registrar’s Office took the Fourth of July weekend off.
But the break was short-lived. Now, the group prepares for November’s General Election and attempts to get more of the county’s citizens to the polls after a dismal primary turnout.
The state officially certified the June 7 primary results on Thursday, ending an anxious and sobering chapter for the local registrar’s office. Hale stepped in as interim registrar after SJC Registrar Heather Ditty tragically died just days before the primary.
Additionally, the county dealt with faulty ballots that contained smeared barcodes. This forced a timely hand count instead of running the ballots through scanning machines. Workers hand-counted about 30 percent of the 100,000-plus votes cast.
Hale’s crew finished its count, certified the election on July 2, and moved it on to the state.
“I want to thank every individual who contributed to the success of the election,” Hale said. “From the poll workers to ROV staff to every voter who made their voices heard. At the end of this election, I can confidently say to every resident that San Joaquin County has once again conducted a transparent and thorough election despite the challenges placed before us.”
Turnout was less than 30%
Hale’s team counted 110,252 ballots, which represents 28.6 percent of the 385,040 registered voters in San Joaquin County.
“Voter turnout during this election is down considerably from the 80.04 percent of registered voters who cast ballots in the 2020 general election which was held during a historic pandemic and a high-profile presidential race,” Hale said. “However, the 2020 primary turnout was similar to previous statewide direct primaries. In fact, the voter turnout in the 2018 primary was 32.3 percent compared to 28.6 percent in 2022. In either instance, we have a lot of work to do in the future to get residents excited about voting and engaged like they were in 2020.”
Hale said the county expects to add an election technician supervisor in the near future. This new staffer will be assigned to monitor the vote-by-mail operation and work on outreach between elections. She said the office is focused on attending more community events to register voters and engage young voters-to-be by conducting mock elections at high schools. The Sacramento County Registrar of Voters office employs a similar tactic.
For Hale, the 2022 Primary Election tried her resolve. But she thanked her predecessor for much of the prep work beforehand.
“It was a very difficult election under the circumstances. I feel Heather really prepared me,” Hale said. “She gave us a road map to follow which saw us through.”
Final election results reside here.