The November election may have come and gone, but Del Norte County voters will head to the polls again Tuesday to vote for a new state senator.
After finishing just under the 50 percent mark in a six-way race in November, front-running Republican Jim Nielsen faces Democrat Michael Harrington in a special election for the 4th District state Senate seat formerly held by Doug LaMalfa of Richvale.
LaMalfa resigned his state Senate seat and ran successfully for Congress.
Del Norte County will consolidate polling places Tuesday to save money, said County Clerk Alissia Northrup. Northrup said because the election was unexpected she had to give County Administrative Officer Jay Sarina an estimate as to how much it would cost: $45,000.
Northrup said she is expecting a relatively low turnout. Out of approximately 12,000 registered voters, the county sent out about 6,500 mail ballots. As of Friday, voters had returned 1,937 ballots, she said.
“We’re trying to run it as cost effectively as possible,” she said, adding that the county printed the sample ballots in black and white as another way of saving money. “We’re trying to reach out to get people to come out and vote. A lot of people weren’t even aware of (the election) until they got their ballot in the mail.”
County staff members aren’t yet finished calculating how much the November general election cost. The county budgeted about $60,000 for that election, Northrup said.
On Tuesday, the polling place for precincts 1, 2, 6, 16 and 17 will be at the Del Norte County Fairgrounds.
Voters in precincts 5 and 5 will cast their ballots at the Veteran’s Memorial Hall in Crescent City. Voters in precincts 3, 7, 13 and 14 will vote at the Crescent Fire Hall. Voters in precincts 11 and 15 will vote at the Lake Earl Grange.
The polling place for voters in precincts 8 and 9 will be at the Smith River Community Hall. Voters in precincts 10 and 12 will vote at the Gasquet Bible Church. Voters in precinct 18 will vote at the Klamath Community Center.
Nielsen, of Gerber, finished the Nov. 6 election with 49.8 percent of the vote in a six-way race. He was 1,662 votes short of the 50 percent-plus margin needed to avoid a run-off with the second-highest vote-getter. Harrington is Magalia.
The 4th state Senate District, which currently includes Del Norte County, traditionally elects Republicans. The winner’s term will last only until 2014, when Del Norte will become part of the 2nd state Senate District due to redistricting. That district is currently represented by Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, and is expected to lean Democratic in its new configuration.
Because of redistricting, Del Norte County now has a new congressman, Democrat Jared Huffman of San Rafael. Huffman was elected to represent California’s 2nd Congressional District in November.
Del Norte County had been represented by Democrat Mike Thompson of St. Helena since 1999. Thompson was re-elected to Congress in the 1st Congressional District in November.
For more information on where to vote on Election Day, call the Elections Department at 465-0383.