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The pace of vote-by-mail ballot participation in Orange County this year should be about 11 percent ahead of the last presidential primary election, Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley said.

“It was trending about 35 percent ahead, but in the last few days it dipped,” Kelley said.

Compared with the presidential primary eight years ago, when like this year, there was no incumbent running, the rate is about 8 percent behind, Kelley said.

“We’re also seeing much higher Democratic returns than we did four years ago,” Kelley said.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is still battling for her party’s nomination as she works to put away Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. On the Republican side, New York businessman Donald J. Trump is the presumptive nominee.

Turnout on election day is expected to be similar to 2008 at about 47 percent, Kelley said. In 2012, turnout was 27 percent on Election Day when President Barack Obama did not face any serious opposition to be renominated.

The campaign for judge positions, which usually does not draw much attention, feature a bit more intrigue as several prominent Orange County prosecutors are on the ballot and if they win could represent a brain drain in the District Attorney’s Office.

Among the top prosecutors vying for judge are Larry Yellin and Mike Murray, who are veterans of the homicide unit, as well as Megan Wagner.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Scott Steiner is facing a challenge from Deputy District Attorney Karen Lee Schatzle.

Steiner, who is also a former prosecutor, was censured two years ago by the California Commission on Judicial Performance for attempting to help a woman he had sex with get a job in the District Attorney’s Office. He was also censured for failing to disqualify himself from a case involving a friend.

Steiner had sex with the woman in the courthouse, according to the watchdog agency.

Yellin is facing Thuy D. Pham, a Los Angeles County prosecutor, who raised some eyebrows by making the unusual move to pay for his filing fees in cash. Pham paid his filing fee, $1,890.41, and his candidate’s statement, $14,637.59, in cash.

When contacted by City News Service about it, Pham said he did not think it was all that unusual and wondered why a reporter would call him about it.

Another campaign of note is for county supervisor in the First District, with incumbent Andrew Do facing Garden Grove Councilman Phat Bui, Santa Ana Councilwoman Michele Martinez and perennial candidate Steve Rocco.

–City News Service

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