STANISLAUS COUNTY — The same old voting habits were demonstrated in the city, school board and district elections in Stanislaus County last month: The vast majority of registered voters sat out the Nov. 5 election, and voting by mail was the most popular method among those who participated.
Stanislaus County Registrar of Voters Lee Lundrigan said the turnout was 23percent, about the same as in previous odd-year elections. She delivered her report on the certified results to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
The results showed that 83percent used vote-by-mail ballots. Lundrigan noted that 122,157 of the 208,535 eligible voters were signed up to cast their ballots by mail.
Only 7,914 of the 47,887 voters who participated went to polling places Election Day. In the most extreme cases of voter apathy, five polling places each saw two walk-in voters or fewer, Lundrigan said.
After hearing Tuesdays report, board Chairman Vito Chiesa and Supervisor Terry Withrow suggested that county election officials study the pros and cons of all-mail balloting for odd-year elections.
Lundrigan said later that she had not given thought to exploring the idea for Stanislaus County. State legislation would be required to permit the county to conduct all-mail elections for cities and school districts, she said.
In 2011, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that authorized an all-mail-voting pilot project in Yolo County for six years. That county can hold up to three local elections primarily using the vote-by-mail process and is supposed to study the effect on local elections. Modesto uses only mail ballots for mayoral runoffs.
Historically, election turnout has been poor for Modesto, Ceres, the Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts, and numerous school districts because their elections dont coincide with the presidential or gubernatorial elections. Local officials have said moving the local elections to even-number years would create an extremely crowded ballot.
Also Tuesday, supervisors approved an employment contract that will pay $209,475 a year to newly appointed Chief Executive Officer Stan Risen.
County leaders approved the three-year contract under a consent item, without discussion. It calls for Risen, 57, to serve as the top administrator for the county through Dec. 31, 2016.
The former assistant executive officer has worked for the county for 26 years and was among 24 applicants considered for the top job this fall. He succeeds former CEO Monica Nino, who left in August to become administrator for San Joaquin County.
Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2321.