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Placer County’s District 4 Assembly turnout sinks to new lows

Voters claim fatigue over elections costing $1.2 million
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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In terms of turnout, the District 4 Assembly election on Tuesday was dismal. Placer County elections chief Jim McCauley said that his pre-election forecast was holding up, with voter turnout – both from mail-in ballots and Election Day votes – failing to reach 30 percent. “It will come in at 28 or 29 percent, maybe,” McCauley said. In 18 years as Placer County Clerk-Registrar-Recorder and dozens of elections, McCauley said he had never before experienced such a low turnout. As recently as the 2008 presidential election, McCauley’s office recorded an 88 percent voter turnout. But after five elections in the District 4 Assembly and District 1 state Senate districts since last June, McCauley is citing voter fatigue and perhaps a little anger and frustration mixed in, as a common feeling among the electorate. “Why are you spending over $1 million for nothing?,” was a common comment from voters, with some writing it on their ballots, McCauley said. The March 8 primary and Tuesday’s special election runoff will cost about $1.2 million in Placer County, he said. Voters were upset that now-state Sen. Ted Gaines, R-Roseville, ran for both Assembly and Senate posts, McCauley said. Also angering some was the decision by his wife, Beth Gaines, to run to replace him in the Assembly after Ted Gaines won a special election in January for the vacated Senate post, he said. Ted Gaines has said he had planned to run exclusively for the Assembly but that his plans changed after the death of District 1 Sen. Dave Cox in the summer. El Dorado, Sacramento and Alpine counties will also have to absorb costs for the election, McCauley said. The Secretary of State released semi-official election results for 100 percent of precincts partially reporting that further consolidated Beth Gaines’ lead over Democrat Dennis Campanale. The two, both Roseville residents, emerged March 8 from a field of eight candidates as the top two vote-getters. They moved on to Tuesday’s runoff. Gaines won with 55.4 percent of the vote. Campanale garnered 44.6 percent. By the numbers, Campanale polled 31,387 votes in District 4 to Gaines’s 38,958. In Placer County, District 4 voted 53.53 percent for Gaines, while Campanale attracted 45.27 of the vote. The figures are considered semi-official both at the state and county level. McCauley said about 2,500 to 3,500 ballots remain to be counted in Placer County. Once counted, they could add another 6 percent to 9 percent to the final turnout figures.