LIVE BLOG: Santa Clara County sees low turnout, few Latino votes
The Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters in the early hours of the June 7 primary election. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

    Voters headed to the polls on Tuesday to cast their ballots in 11 local races, 20 statewide contests and 7 local measures. In San Jose, residents voted for a new mayor for the first time in 8 years to replace Mayor Sam Liccardo who terms out in December.

    San Jose voters also chose their representatives in five council districts — District 1, District 3, District 5, District 7 and District 9. Three of those races, Districts 1, 3 and 5, are open seats. Voters also overwhelmingly approved a measure to shift mayoral elections to presidential years in an effort to boost voter turnout.

    Countywide, voters cast ballots in three races — sheriff, district attorney and county assessor. Candidates also competed for the open District 1 seat on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.

    Vote centers are open in Santa Clara County from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on June 7. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

    11 p.m. Early election results posted

    With 52% of the county’s total ballots counted, elections officials released the last round of results at 11 p.m. Tuesday. The next update will be 5 p.m. on Wednesday on the county’s website.

    Click on the stories below for a look at who is leading each race:

    7:45 p.m. Polls about to close, steady voters in East San Jose

    With just 15 minutes left until polls close, voters trickled into the Mexican Heritage Plaza in East San Jose to cast their ballots. Unlike the 2020 election, there were no long lines.

    One of those last-minute voters was Sofia Atinza, 19. Tuesday was her first time voting.

    “It’s my right as an American to vote,” she said. “I’m really happy I can participate in these decisions for my state, my county and my city.”

    First time voter Sofia Antiza cast her ballot just as polls closed at the Mexican Heritage Plaza. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

    5 p.m. Candidates in San Jose urge voters to the polls

    Several local candidates are taking to social media to urge voters to cast their ballots before the polls close at 8 p.m. 

    In District 7, incumbent Councilmember Maya Esparza, who’s seeking reelection, was at the voting center at the Tully Library. The location accepts both in-person voting and ballot dropoff, she said in a video. 

    “And you can still get a sticker,” Esparza said, pointing to an “I Voted” sticker on her shirt. 

    Mayoral candidate and San Jose Councilmember Dev Davis also tweeted a photo of herself turning in her vote at the ballot dropbox in front of City Hall. Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez, who’s also vying for the mayor’s seat, cast her vote with her family earlier today at the Roosevelt Community Center. 

    San Jose Councilmember and mayoral candidate Matt Mahan was also accompanied by his family this morning when he voted. 

    “If you have your ballot, you can still mail it in or drop it off at your nearest ballot dropbox before 8 p.m. today,” he said in the tweet.

    Santa Clara County Supervisor Susan Ellenberg, who’s running unopposed in District 4, also showed off her “I Voted” sticker with her staff in a tweet. 

    “Every vote matters, every vote counts,” she said in the tweet.

    3:30 p.m. Latino turnout sparks concern

    Voter turnout is especially low today among Latino residents in Santa Clara County, raising questions about how it could impact Latino candidates in competitive races.

    In Santa Clara County, 174,085 registered Latino voters were mailed a ballot but only 22,325 had returned them by mid-day. That’s about 13% and represents the lowest turnout among white, African American or Asian voters. Statewide, the average ballot return rate for Latino voters was 9%.

    Local Latino activists sprung into action Tuesday to try boosting the turnout. Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network, also known as SIREN, is doing a “get out the vote” campaign in East San Jose today.

    SIREN members organized a “get out the vote” campaign for the June 7 primary election. Photo courtesy of SIREN.

    Gabriela Chavez-Lopez, executive director of Latina Coalition of Silicon Valley, called the low turnout rate “alarming.”

    “It’s always alarming when you see the community is not engaged in the civic process,” she said. “It’s aspirational to have that high voter turnout.”

    She said the Latino community in Silicon Valley historically has had low voter turnout, and worries it could spell trouble for Latino candidates. Chavez-Lopez said it’s essential to get the message out about why it’s important to vote, especially when it comes from trusted sources.

    “I think speaking to the issues is important and how particular representation can impact their every day lives,” she said.

    Tuesday’s ballot features many critical races and measures for communities of color, leaders said.

    “This year’s primaries are particularly important because on the ballot we have an opportunity to increase voter turnout in mayoral elections by 30% through Measure B, we have an opportunity to bring in bold progressive values to the DA’s office through Sajid Khan, and we have a tight mayoral race along with many council seats that could determine the future of San Jose,” said Maricela Gutiérrez, president of SIREN Action. “We want the energy from the 2020 elections to continue so that historic voting numbers become the new norm.”

    2:16 p.m. Low turnout in Santa Clara County, higher than state

    It’s a slow day at the polls in Santa Clara County, but returns are trending higher locally than statewide numbers.

    Santa Clara County currently has a 19% return rate, while the statewide return rate is 17%. Approximately 190,958 ballots have been cast locally.

    The county Registrar of Voters is anticipating a 35% to 45% turnout for Tuesday’s primary election. There are more than 1 million registered voters in the county.

    Demographic data from PDI Inc. shows Latinos with the lowest percentage of voter returns in Santa Clara County—13%—compared to 24% for Black voters, 22% for white voters and 18% for Asian voters.

    A screenshot of voter turnout data in Santa Clara County. Courtesy of PDI.

    1 p.m. Some worries about election security

    One of the most popular vote sites this year, according to county officials, was expected to be Central Park in Santa Clara. But by mid-afternoon, the lines there remained short — with under 10 people waiting to cast their votes.

    Despite a slew of election security measures from the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters, some voters said Tuesday they worried ballots can be tampered with. In Silicon Valley, a whopping 80% of voters vote-by-mail and all registered voters receive a mailed ballot.

    Santa Clara resident Ted Cordoncillo, 58, said he trusts in-person voting and written ballots more than machines.

    “I’d rather vote on paper than a machine. Elections are rigged,” he said.

    Santa Clara voter Ted Cordoncillo said he’s worried about ballots being tampered with, despite security measures taken by the county. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

    This year the county’s elections office has taken several measures to ensure a safe and accurate election cycle. Officials retooled the ballot inventory process, created a new in-house inventory tracking program, hired paid security at voting centers and changed some of the observer rules.

    “There has been and continues to be a lot of misinformation and disinformation throughout the nation, but I will speak for Santa Clara County,” Shannon Bushey, registrar of voters, previously told San José Spotlight. “All parts of our process are very transparent and we are here to have observers and the public come in and learn about what we do.”

    Cordoncillo, a credit collections analyst, said he cares about fixing roads and providing utilities. A hot-button issue in his city is Levi’s Stadium — home to the San Francisco 49ers — and he would like to see elected leaders put a dome over it to reduce noise.

    11:20 a.m. Library vote center open despite shooting

    After some speculation, elections officials confirmed Tuesday a vote center at the Hillview library branch is open despite a recent shooting.

    The library, located at 1600 Hopkins Dr. in San Jose, was the site of a gang-related shooting on Monday. According to reports, two men entered the building and chased a victim. They shot the victim before fleeing. The victim is expected to survive. Children were inside the building at the time.

    Michael Borja, a spokesman for the Registrar of Voters, said library services are closed but a vote center inside its community room remains open.

    9:15 a.m. Short lines at Registrar of Voters

    Elections officials told San José Spotlight that voter turnout is about 17% countywide as of this morning. About 175,000 ballots have been cast.

    No problems were reported at vote centers, officials said.

    Be Nguyen, 56, is one of those voters who woke up early to cast her ballot in-person.

    She wanted her vote to be counted correctly. She said she voted for candidates who will work hard for their communities — and not typical politicians.

    “They have to work for the people, not themselves,” Nguyen said.

    San Jose voter Be Nguyen said she cares about electing politicians who will work for the community, and not themselves. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

    San Jose voter Patricia Giron, 55, has voted every year she could. She went to work late today to vote.

    “It’s important for the people to have a voice and this is the best way that we can voice our support for particular initiatives and candidates,” she said, adding that she cares most about social justice, social services, homelessness, gun control, COVID, schooling and safety. She would like to see health insurance reformed. “There are so many issues right now that need to be addressed on a higher level.”

    San Jose voter Patricia Giron casts her vote on Tuesday. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

    She said the San Jose mayoral race is interesting with newer and more experienced candidates all vying for the city’s top political job.

    “It’s good sometimes to have change,” she said. “To have new blood and new ideas and to be afforded that opportunity.”

    Aardavan Farbajhsh, 77, a retired city inspector who lives in San Jose has voted since coming to this country from Iran in 1968. He said elections are absolutely secure. He is concerned about global warming.

    He voted for Cindy Chavez for San Jose mayor since she’s a Democrat but has voted in the past for both parties.

    “If you don’t vote, you don’t have a voice,” he said. “End of story.”

    Aardavan Farbajhsh said voting is the only way to have a voice in San Jose. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

    8 a.m. Voters head to the polls

    Election Day is underway in Silicon Valley.

    Voters headed to the polls on Tuesday to cast their ballots in 11 local races, 20 statewide contests and 7 local measures. In San Jose, voters will select a new mayor for the first time in 8 years to replace Mayor Sam Liccardo who terms out in December.

    San Jose voters will also choose their representatives in five council districts — Districts 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9. Three of those races, Districts 1, 3 and 5, are open seats and voters will elect a new councilmember. In District 7, Councilmember Maya Esparza is fighting for reelection against two formidable opponents, and District 9 Councilmember Pam Foley is up for reelection with no challengers.

    Learn more about each San Jose City Council contest here: Mayor, District 1, District 3, District 5, District 7, District 9.

    Voters in San Jose will also consider a measure to shift mayoral elections to presidential years in an effort to boost voter turnout. And in Santa Clara County, all three countywide seats are up for grabs — sheriff, district attorney and county assessor. Candidates are also competing for the open District 1 seat on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, while District 4 Supervisor Susan Ellenberg is running unopposed.

    Officials are anticipating a 35%-45% turnout in the primary election today. There are more than 1 million registered voters in Santa Clara County.

    This year, the county elections office opened 101 vote centers throughout Santa Clara County. To find a voter center near you, click here. You can find ballot drop off locations by clicking here.

    Vote centers are open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. After vote centers close, election results will be posted here.

    Check back throughout the day for more updates.

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