Mail-in ballots post huge gain in San Mateo County

(AP file photo)(AP file photo)

(AP file photo)(AP file photo)

Election Day apparently went smoothly across San Mateo County, where turnout was low and a higher percentage of voters than ever before cast ballots by mail.

About three-quarters of voters cast their ballots by mail, which county Elections Manager David Tom said was higher than in previous years. “The trend seems to be pointing more and more that way,” he said.

On Wednesday, officials were still counting provisional ballots and those received by mail or dropped off at polling places Tuesday, Tom said. He expects the counting to be complete by the middle of next week, well before the Dec. 6 deadline by which the county must certify the election.

Several races remained too close to call Tuesday night, but by Wednesday they had been decided.

In a surprising twist, incumbent Cyril Bologoff lost his seat on Brisbane’s City Council. The two available seats went to Ray Miller, a former council member and mayor, and insurance appraiser Terry O’Connell.

In the San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District, incumbent Colleen Marie Sullivan and newcomer Audrey Ng won the two available school board seats.

In the Sequoia Union High School District, incumbent Lorraine Rumley and newcomers Carrie Du Bois and Allen Weiner won three available seats.

Millbrae City Council’s three available seats went to incumbent Marge Colapietro and newcomers Wayne Lee and Robert Gottschalk.

In Belmont, incumbents David Braunstein and Christine Wozniak kept their City Council seats, though Wozniak’s lead over challenger Eric Reed was razor-thin.

At a time when state funding for schools has been slashed, voters approved parcel taxes to support the Burlingame Elementary and Pacifica school districts and a bond measure to renovate aging schools in the Millbrae School District.

Though elections officials investigated a few complaints about electioneering, none were substantiated. “The low turnout didn’t encourage any fireworks,” Tom said.

It was too early to give an official turnout figure, Tom said, but he offered an educated guess of about 26 percent.

“It’s not high, but it’s pretty typical for this kind of election,” he said.

Signed, sealed, delivered

Although numbers are still preliminary, more Peninsula voters apparently chose to vote by mail this year than in any recent election.

75%: Estimated vote-by-mail ballots in 2011
51%: Vote-by-mail ballots in 2010
66%: Vote-by-mail ballots in 2009
46%: Vote-by-mail ballots in 2008

Turnout appeared to be lower than in recent elections:

26%: Estimated turnout in 2011
65%: Turnout in 2010
28%: Turnout in 2009
79%: Turnout in 2010

Source: San Mateo County Registration and Elections Division

acrawford@sfexaminer.com

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