Election based on a handful of registered voters | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Election based on a handful of registered voters

Although South Lake Tahoe joins the state in gearing up for next Tuesday’s election that includes gubernatorial and City Council races, the number of registered voters prepared to exercise their civic duty has dropped to its lowest point in the last six years — 8,110 residents.

There are about 23,000 residents in the city.

Two years ago on Election Day, 9,592 people were registered — about the same number as 1996. Both years witnessed Judy Brown and Tom Davis being elected to the City Council.

A comparable measuring stick to this year’s race was 1998, when 8,701 people registered to cast their votes for three of nine candidates.

This time, voters will choose between eight diverse candidates for council and a ballot measure to help fund the city. Because of this, officials hope for a large turnout.

The city has even taken a first leap by inviting the public to witness the ballot-counting process, as El Dorado County will set up a satellite station in the City Council Chambers at 1900 Lake Tahoe Blvd. to tally South Lake Tahoe’s 17 precincts.

Susan Alessi, the assistant city clerk who’s running uncontested for the city clerk post replacing Angie Peterson, predicts this election should be interesting and surprising.

“It seems it’s going to be a pretty hot election, but it’s hard to figure,” Alessi said.

The city has seen voter turnout fluctuate from 58.6 percent in 1996 to 46.9 percent in 1998 to 62 percent in 2000.

But even in the age of high-technology, no one can predict human behavior.

Both county registrars are expecting at least two-thirds of the registered voters to turn out on Nov. 5 — El Dorado, with 62 percent of 89,640 people; and Douglas, with 70 percent of 26,703.

“It’s traditionally what Douglas County does,” said County Clerk Barbara Reed, who’s also wearing the registrar’s hat these days. During presidential elections, the turnout jumps to 86 percent, she said.

Still, a hotly contested commissioners race in Nevada, three critical questions regarding tax measures to pay for road repair and another that changes growth guidelines may bring the voters out, Reed added.

And El Dorado and Douglas counties have sent out a large number of absentee ballots, the registrars indicated.

— Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at swood@tahoedailytribune.com

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