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SJ County voter turnout could hit 55 percent
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As of Thursday, the San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters had received 30,000 absentee ballots with the counting to begin as early as Monday.

That will start as soon as the Grand Jury has checked the accuracy of the voting system and approved it.

“Once it’s approved, I can begin and count the ballots,” said Registrar of Voters Austin G. Erdman.

The counting will continue every day, including Saturdays and Sundays, through Election Day on November 2, Erdman said.

Each ballot-counting machine can open 10,000 absentee ballots a day, he said.

“This is turning out to be a pretty big election. We’re seeing a lot of movement, and we’re seeing increases in voter registration,” said Erdman who is predicting a 55 percent voter turnout on Nov. 2.

The reasons for this large turnout are some of the major political players in the coming elections, Erdman said – the senate race between Democrat Barbara Boxer and challenger Carly Fiorina, the gubernatorial race between former governor Jerry Brown who wants his old office back from the 1970s and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, “plus a couple of local measures” including the one seeking to legalize marijuana.

The marijuana measure “is pushing voters to go out and vote,” Erdman said.

With more than half of the county’s roughly 270,000 registered voters expected to turn out, the Registrar of Voters office will have plenty of things to do, and that’s not just counting the ballots.

“We’ll be doing several other things. Well be keying in registrations, receiving mail, and dealing with people at the counter voting,” Erdman said.

“From here to election day, we’ll be working seven days a week,” he said.

To handle this temporary deluge of work, the Registrar of Voters office hired temporary workers, starting as early as six months before the election. Currently, there are 10 temp workers helping in the office and 10 info techs, among others, Erdman said. All in all, there are 40 temporary helpers working until Election Day or even some days beyond that “depending on what happens with the election,” he said, such as request for recounts.

“If there are no close races, we should have everything done by Nov. 24. If the Boxer-Fiorina (race) turns out to be a close election, we may be here longer,” Erdman said.