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Library tax passes; Denham, Hernandez earn slots on November ballot

Polls see low turnout

Library tax passes; Denham, Hernandez earn slots on November ballot

Linda Meadows sticks an "I Voted" sticker on Mariah Suhama.

POSTED June 5, 2012 10:18 p.m.

Despite low turnout, Stanislaus County’s one-eighth cent library sales tax appears to have earned voter approval in Tuesday’s Presidential Primary Election.

As of 8:44 p.m., with 57.11 percent of precincts reporting, Measure T was ahead with 82 percent of voters in favor and 18 percent opposed.

“When we told people here they were all screaming and yelling,” said Vanessa Czopek, county librarian. “I think it’s just proof that the whole county values their library.”

Czopek credited the grassroots supporters of the library who pushed Measure T, which will ensure Stanislaus County’s libraries are funded through 2018.

The sales tax costs the average Stanislaus County household $20 per year, and accounts for 87 percent of the library system’s revenue. Had the measure failed, libraries would have likely closed.

“That’s why I came out to vote,” said Tony, a voter at the Silvercrest Senior Residences polling place who asked his last name not be used.

But few voters were drawn to the polls on Tuesday, with the marquee Republican Presidential Primary already largely decided given California’s late election date.

The early success of Republican candidate Mitt Romney, who led the statewide results with 81.2 percent of the vote as of 9:20 p.m. Tuesday, had essentially secured his place on the November ballot prior to Tuesday’s vote. Texas congressman Ron Paul was running second in statewide Republican primary voting, with 9.2 percent of the vote.

Though Measure T, two state propositions, and a tightly-contested congressional primary were also on local ballots, many voters remained at home. Of nearly 1,500 registered voters at the Stanislaus Christian Fellowship polling place, 71 ballots had been cast as of 5:30 p.m.

“It is a shame,” said Lauren Wallace, a first-time poll worker. “It’s just disappointing they don’t have more people coming out to vote.”

Wallace said only a person or two had come in at a time, with lines failing to form. Turnout was slow throughout the day, she said.

An even worse turnout was seen at the Silvercrest Senior Residences polling location, which hosted two precincts. Of more than 2,700 registered voters, 72 votes had been cast as of 5:15 p.m.

But those voters who did turn out seemed to be in good spirits, said poll worker Donny Helnore.

“There have been a lot of happy voters today,” Helnore said, noting many voters were smiling and joking with the poll workers.

The polling place saw only one hiccup, when a woman registered as independent wished to fill out a Republican ballot. Though the woman wished to support a Republican candidate, the Republican Party only allows for registered Republicans to participate in their primary election.

“When November comes along she can vote for who she wants,” said poll inspector Debbie Jehever.

In other local elections, incumbent U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham (R) and Democratic frontrunner Jose Hernandez, a former NASA astronaut, appear to have made the November ballot in the contested U.S. Congress District 10 primary, with 47.7 percent and 28.9 percent of the vote respectively. Independent Chad Condit, who made a strong push in the top-two primary, earned 14.7 percent of voters, as of 9:31 p.m.

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