The Public Eye

Reports from the Bee's investigative team

June 14, 2010
Voter turnout better than it seemed

LS YOLO ELECTION 1.JPGOn election day, the Field Poll published a widely-cited prediction that voter turnout would fall to a record low.

It was a safe bet since voter turnout has been trending downward for years. And it may well prove true -- it won't be clear until all provisional and late mail-in ballots are counted over the next few weeks.

But turnout is calculated based on registered voters, and the percentage of eligible Californians who are registered to vote has increased, largely because of excitement over the last presidential election

In all, about 24.1 percent of eligible voters were expected to vote in this election, up from 23.4 percent the last gubernatorial primary, according to a table in the Field Poll report.

Look at it this way: Say you have a city with 100 eligible voters and two elections. In the first election, 50 people register to vote, and 25 actually cast ballots. In the second election, 60 register to vote, and 27 cast ballots. The first election has a higher turnout rate; the second election has more people who actually voted. Despite its glum tone, the Field Poll study, in the fine print, says the above example is analogous to Tuesday's election: Lower registered voter turnout, but more Californians actually voting.

In Sacramento County, 164,465 votes had been tallied by Thursday, and around 80,000 provisional and late ballots were left to be counted. If 60,000 or more of those votes are valid -- some will not be accepted by the registrar -- Sacramento County actually will have experiences an increase over the last gubernatorial election in the proportion of eligible residents who cast ballots.

Finally, a bit of context. My home state of North Carolina just posted 14 percent turnout for its statewide primary; Texas just hosted a statewide primary with 11 percent turnout; Illinois just had a statewide primary election with 21 percent turnout.

About Comments

Reader comments on are the opinions of the writer, not The Sacramento Bee. If you see an objectionable comment, click the "report abuse" button below it. We will delete comments containing inappropriate links, obscenities, hate speech, and personal attacks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. See more about comments here.

What You Should Know About Comments on is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)

Here are some rules of the road:

• Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "report abuse" button to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.

• Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.

• Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.

• Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand. If you want to discuss an issue with a specific user, click on his profile name and send him a direct message.

• Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.

• Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.

• Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.

• Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.

You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "report abuse" button to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.

If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them, but you may ask our staff to retract one of your comments by sending an email to Again, make sure you note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us your profile name.

hide comments

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.

About The Public Eye

Welcome to The Bee's newest blog: Public Eye. In the coming months, you will see us breaking news here as well as following up on investigations we have published with tidbits, news breaks and behind-the-scenes descriptions of our news-gathering process. Know of a wrong we could right? Send our fraud squad your tips at:

The Public Eye


October 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31    

Monthly Archives