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Bay Area Election Officials Estimate Lower Turnout Than 2008

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A California polling place

Voters cast ballots at a California polling place (Eric Thayer/Getty Images)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Although many vote-by-mail and provisional ballots have yet to be counted, Bay Area counties are projecting strong voter turnout for Tuesday’s presidential election, however numbers are expected to be below those from the 2008 race.

In Alameda County, 78 percent of voters cast their ballots in 2008 when President Barack Obama faced Arizona Sen. John McCain.

As of mid-afternoon Wednesday, voter turnout for this year’s presidential race in Alameda County was almost at 50 percent, but election officials anticipated that number to jump to about 70 percent.

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The Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters has yet to release completed voter turnout information, but as of Wednesday afternoon the county counted 53 percent of registered voters had marked a ballot.

The 2008 election saw more than 85 percent voter turnout in that county.

With more than 35,000 vote-by-mail and provisional ballots left to count, Solano County was at a 56.9 percent turnout for this year’s election.

Voters came out in droves in 2008, reaching nearly 85 percent turnout.

Marin County election officials said they are expecting anywhere from 80 to 85 percent turnout after all the vote-by-mail and provisional ballots are accounted for.

As of mid-afternoon Wednesday, an election official said there about 46,000 more of those types of ballots to process with voter turnout standing at just more than 55 percent.

Voter turnout was high in 2008 at more than 90 percent, which a Sonoma County election official said Wednesday afternoon was a number unlikely to be reached in this election.

Sonoma County voters had high voter participation in the 2008 election with 93.4 percent casting a ballot. Unofficial results for this year have turnout at 68.2 percent.

San Mateo County election officials expected turnout to be slightly below 2008’s nearly 79 percent participation.

On Wednesday, 56.5 percent voter turnout was recorded, however officials expected the number of voters to jump up to more than 70 percent.

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen said in a statement Wednesday that ballots would be processed for about the next month, with official results, including turnout, pending.

“It’s understandable some people want election returns immediately, but it’s more important than ever to get results right rather than get results fast,” Bowen said.

The chief elections official also noted an increase of vote-by-mail ballots, which require more time to be processed.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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