Counties seeing low, but not unusual, special election turnout

A volunteer at the Josephine County Clerk's Office verifies a signature on a ballot. (News 10/Mike Marut)

As of Tuesday morning, both Jackson and Josephine County Clerks reported low turnout from voters for the May 2019 Special Election.

Josephine County Clerk Rhiannon Henkels found 20.4% of ballots had been turned in as of the morning of election day. This year's special election ballot has a handful of measures and candidates for different positions, but very few actually impact the entire county.

"There are the two advisory questions county-wide and really even with that it's only ... the one is county-wide," Henkels said. "The other is only if you're not protected in a fire-protected district or in the city of Grants Pass or the city of Cave Junction."

Henkels is referencing the Ballot Measure 17-89 for the rural fire protection district. The "one" that is county-wide is a county lodging tax.

Jackson County Clerk Chris Walker says the turnout in her county is even lower by percentage. As of 10:45 a.m. Tuesday, turnout was at 14.6%, approximately 22,000 ballots turned in.

"These particular elections, district elections, always have a lower turnout," Walker said. "We have a lot of candidates and we have some measures but what happens is they're not people who actively campaign."

Henkels is optimistically looking at possibly 27% or 28% voter turnout. Walker, who initially estimated 20% turnout, is now predicting maybe only 17% of ballots get turned in by 8:00 p.m. Tuesday. Both Henkels and Walker say turnout is low but that surprises neither of them.

It is now too late to mail a ballot in.

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