The voter turnout in the November election set new land-speed records for Santa Barbara County, with 203,506 votes cast, or 86.5 percent, in terms of absolute number votes and in terms of percentage of registered voters who cast ballots.
Four years ago, 182,264 voters cast a ballot, or 81.7 percent. Four years before that — in 2012, the number was 164,977 or 80.9 percent. In 2008 — the year Barack Obama was first elected — the number was 176,562 or 86.4 percent. And in 2004, it was 171,564 or 80.5 percent.
Though County Elections czar Joe Holland had predicted a turnout in excess of 90 percent, the actual 86.5 percent is still the highest in the past five presidential races. Holland’s prediction did not materialize, he said, because so many more people registered to vote this year.
As a simple mathematical equation, the voter registration figure, Holland said, has become less meaningful. New voter registration laws, he said, allowed voters to register up to the very last minute. In years past, the rules were far more restrictive. Holland likened the challenge of planning for an election this year to that of holding a wedding party with no idea how many guests might show up.