The voters will head to the polls on Tuesday, Sept. 17, but City officials don’t expect a large number to turn out for an election that will, essentially, knock off one person from the Councilor at-large field.
City Clerk Sergio Cornelio said there are approximately 19,800 voters registered for the Preliminary Election, and it’s an election that will pare down the 11-person field to 10 candidates. With one candidate eliminated next Tuesday, the remaining 10 will proceed to the Nov. 5 City Election.
Cornelio said he expected about 2,000 voters citywide.
“If you look back at the last two Preliminary elections you had 1,300 and 1,800 turn out to vote,” he said. “This time might have a little more excitement than those. I would say 2,000 turning out is my guess.”
The election will also feature new voting machines that will be used for the first time, he said.
The machines are from the same company that provided the old machines, but are an upgraded form. While voters may not notice a tremendous difference in the booth, there will be a difference for those running the election.
“They are really similar to the old ones, but are supposed to give us 10 times the amount of security as the old machines,” he said. “We feel very good about rolling them out. It will be a low turnout so that will help us be able to get used to this new voting equipment.”
The Preliminary comes as somewhat of a controversy as it was expected the election would be canceled as a cost saving measure. Each citywide election costs the Clerk’s Office $55,000 to roll out the voting infrastructure.
Cornelio said his office did recommend the Council cancel the election, but a unanimous vote earlier this summer upheld the Preliminary date.
“We recommended that the Council cancel it not because we wanted to circumvent the democratic process, but we felt that to not have an election to eliminate one or two people – especially at-large – could save significant money,” he said.
He said they are looking to make a change in the future to perhaps create new rules that would eliminate the Preliminary automatically except for mayor or for extremely large fields of candidates.
There are 12 polling locations throughout the city that will be open Tuesday, Sept. 17. They will open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.