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Low in-person voter turnout seen in Citrus Heights special election

The Crosswoods Community Center was open on Election Day for in-person voting, at 6742 Auburn Blvd. // M. Hazlip

By Mike Hazlip—
The vote center at the Crosswoods Community Center was largely empty on Election Day in Citrus Heights on Tuesday, but workers said most voters are likely mailing in ballots.

Vote Center Inspector Michael Harrison told The Sentinel he was pleased with voter turnout for the special election to replace the vacancy on the San Juan Unified School Board, left by the late Steve Miller. More than 10 people had voted in-person at the location before 2 p.m. on Election Day, workers said.

Harrison estimated more than 90 percent of eligible voters choose to vote by mail and noted that each vote carries more weight in smaller elections.

“There are fewer voters, obviously, for these elections than the statewide ones,” Harrison said. “The contest can be decided by a very small number of votes, a few hundred, and in some rare cases, a small handful of votes.”

A voter who did not want to be identified said she wanted to vote in person on Election Day, adding she’d been voting since she first became eligible. She stressed the importance of participating in elections.

“You vote what you get,” she said. “If you don’t like what you got, you better vote to make a change. That’s the only way we can do it, that’s the way our Founding Fathers established our country.”

Vote center worker Angee Wangsgard said several voters showed up, but were not eligible to vote for the Area 7 school board seat. Starting in November 2022, the school board moved to by-trustee area elections, and increased the size of the board from five to seven board members, according to the district’s website.

Some voters who had previously voted in the district’s at-large elections were confused by the changes, Wangsgard said. Only residents who reside within Area 7’s boundaries are eligible to vote in the special election. The seat largely covers Citrus Heights, except for several portions of the city south of Greenback Lane and east of Mariposa Avenue.

Two candidates are running for school board for the Area 7 seat. Candidate Murad “Moe” Sarama has been endorsed by Citrus Heights Councilwoman Porsche Middleton as well as the Democratic Party of Sacramento County, while candidate Manuel Perez has been endorsed by Mayor Tim Schaefer and the Sacramento County Republican Party.

Unlike in prior years, voters are not be able to vote in person at City Hall, but can drop off ballots in person at a secure drop box outside City Hall until 8 p.m. on Election Day. According to the County Elections department website, Crosswoods Community Center, located at 6742 Auburn Blvd., is the only location in Citrus Heights open for in-person voting.

The vote center is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day. Ballots can also be dropped off at the Rusch Park Community Center until 5 p.m.

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