Voter turnout rate down, total votes up

PHOTO BY SHELBY WOLFE/Newport News Times

LINCOLN COUNTY — Ninety-eight percent of votes have been counted in Lincoln County, and while the voter turnout rate is down, the total number of votes cast is up.

Though a few ballots are making their way from other counties or being returned to be signed before the final count is done, there shouldn’t be many surprises in the coming weeks. Citizens will know absolute numbers around Thanksgiving.

“We will have the final unofficial count on Tuesday Nov. 20 at 5 p.m.,” said County Clerk Dana Jenkins, who was re-elected for another term in this election. “And then a few days later we’ll go through race by race, precinct by precinct and we should have the official count by the end of that week.”

As the votes stand now, Lincoln County has re-elected all county government officials on the ballot and has elected a new mayor for every city.

Voter Turnout

Though it had a record number of candidates running for office in the county, this midterm election had poorer turnout than 2014 and 2010 in both Lincoln County and across the state. Voter turnout is currently measured at 69.09 percent in Lincoln County and at 67.82 percent in Oregon overall.

This lower turnout rate in Lincoln County is emphasized by the small gap between the county’s rate and the state’s. With the odd exception of the 2016 general election, Lincoln County has a history of its voting rates being above the state — particularly in midterm elections. This year Lincoln County is currently leading by 0.69 percent, a miniscule amount compared to the county’s lead of 3.33 percent in 2014 and 4.32 percent in 2010.

However, more votes were cast in this election than in 2014 or 2010. Although the rate of eligible voters partaking in their right to vote is lower, over 4,000 more people voted in this election.

This is also seen at the state level, where there have already been nearly 350,000 more ballots received for this midterm election than the last, and the voter turnout rate is 2.5 percent lower compared to that same election.

Local election odds and ends

The closest race in Lincoln County is that for Lincoln City Mayor, where current leader Dick Anderson is exactly 20 votes ahead of Susan Wahlke, making it the closest mayoral race in Lincoln City this century. Though the results are close, Jenkins says there won’t be a need for a recount.

Another unusual circumstance in a local election: two council candidates received the same number of votes. Though it won’t be an issue, as there are two seats open on the council in Yachats, James Kerti and Leslie Vaaler each received exactly 278 votes with 98 percent of the county’s ballots counted.

“That’s pretty rare,” said Jenkins. “Usually they’ll be a few votes apart when you have four candidates running for two positions. It’s rare but it happens every once in a while.”

And, on a bright note for the clerk, Jenkins received the most votes out of any race in the county — including those for governor and state representative.

“I’m pleased that I got as many votes as I did,” said Jenkins. “A lot of times when people see someone running unopposed they go ahead and skip that one, so I was thankful that people took the time to vote for me.”

Final election results, as with all elections will be posted to the county clerk’s website: www.co.lincoln.or.us/clerk. Currently, preliminary results can be seen there.

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