Site Map
Voting News
Contact Us
About Us

is NOT!
associated with

A few hitches as Bay Area voters go to the polls  (CA)

John Koopman   San Francisco Chronicle   05 February 2008

SAN FRANCISCO There were no widespread reports of voting problems today as California voters ramped up for what was billed as a record turnout for a primary election. But the one issue that seemed to plague voters more than anything concerned those who declined to state a party preference when they registered, but who wanted to cast a vote for a Democratic candidate.

Decline-to-state voters are not permitted to vote Republican, but can cast their votes for Democrat or American Independent candidates.

In some precincts in Contra Costa County, independent voters showed up to the polls and poll workers told them erroneously that they could not get a nonpartisan ballot, a Democrat Party ballot or American Independent party ballot. The county sent workers out into the field trying to fix the situation, and called the precincts to explain that they needed to give those voters ballots.

Steve Weir, Contra Costa County registrar of voters, said he had heard of three or four reports of decline-to-state voters not getting the ballots they requested. He said he was at a loss to explain it because poll workers were trained in the legalities of who can get which type of ballot.

Weir encouraged voters who encounter this problem to request a provisional ballot.

The issue was not confined to Contra Costa County. There were sporadic reports from around the region of decline-to-state voters getting to the polls and receiving conflicting reports of what and how they could cast their ballots, including one man who e-mailed from El Granada to say he was given no choice in voting for president.

Weir said there had been other problems at polling places in the county, but election workers moved quickly to resolve them. A couple of precincts had no voter rolls, but those were fixed. One precinct in Pittsburg opened late, disappointing some early birds, but they were eventually able to vote.

In San Francisco, the voter registrar's office reported that work went mostly smoothly throughout the morning, with only a handful of problems with polling places opening late or too few volunteers showing up for duty. One voter e-mailed The Chronicle to say there was no voter list at his polling place when he went to cast his ballot at 7:45 a.m.

Polling volunteers said turnout today has been much bigger than in previous years.

The big draw, of course, is the presidential primary, fueled by excitement over highly anticipated races on both the Democratic and Republican sides. As such, the local issues also on the ballot got little attention.

On the statewide ballot, Propositions 94, 95, 96 and 97 would allow four Southern California Indian tribes to add a total of 17,000 new slot machines to their existing casinos in exchange for providing the state with much more of their revenue.

Proposition 93 would alter state legislative term limit rules by trimming the number of years state lawmakers can spend in office from 14 to 12 years, but allowing them to spend their entire careers in either the state Senate or Assembly.

Proposition 92 would give schools - kindergarten through community college - an additional $900 million in state money over the next three years. It needs a simple majority vote to pass and would increase the guaranteed funding for community colleges by altering the complex formula that now guides state allocations to schools.

Proposition 91 would ban the state from moving gas tax money into the general fund, but even the people who put the initiative on the ballot are urging a "no" vote because Prop. 1A in 2006 accomplished their goal.

From Sonoma to San Jose and several cities in between, voters were weighing in on 10 school tax measures, including a bond to build a new swimming pool complex at Albany High School and an indefinite extension to a $195-per-parcel tax in Oakland. Seven of the measures are facilities bonds, requiring 55 percent voter support, while three are parcel taxes, which require two-thirds backing.

Voters in El Cerrito, Richmond and San Mateo County were voting on new taxes to improve roads, fund police and fire departments, and provide other city services.

Measure A in El Cerrito is a half-cent sales tax to fix neighborhood streets, which are among the worst in the Bay Area, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

In Richmond, voters are being asked to decide on Measure B, a revised telecommunications tax that's expected to raise money for police and other services. If it passes, Measure B would lower the city's telecommunications tax by 5 percent but raise more money because it would apply to a broader range of technologies.

Voters in unincorporated San Mateo County just west of the San Mateo city limits were deciding on Measure I, a property tax continuation that would pay for police, fire and emergency services.

San Francisco voters are deciding whether to finance $185 million in spending on city parks, whether to offer retiring police officers generous pay packages to stay on the job, and whether the city should try to buy Alcatraz Island and convert it into a peace center.

Some voters interviewed early Tuesday said the local issues were overshadowed by the excitement of the presidential election, and they had to make decisions on the fly.

"I just have not heard much about the local issues," said Shris Dunn, a 32-year-old marketing specialist in San Francisco.

Others seemed more informed.

"The Bay Area needs a center for peace," said Sandy Bell, 55, a legal secretary from San Francisco. "We need to get back to where we were 30 years ago when we were making a difference in world peace."

Michael Morris, 59, an urban planner who lives in the city, said he was concerned about local parks.

"We need to improve our parks," he said. "It's our biggest asset, especially in a city as condensed as San Francisco."

In Oakland, voter Mike Cota, 32, said he voted no against the Oakland Children's Hospital bond measures because he found them to be confusing.

"The hospital didn't even go to city leaders," he said. "They only have their own interests in mind."

He voted no on most of the state ballot measures, including all the Indian gaming propositions.

In Daly City, Margarita Lopez, 61, a nurse assistant, voted in favor of establishing an independent community college district.

"I've struggled to put my kids through college," she said. "And I had to work 12-hour shifts. The proposition will give opportunity to all the kids in the area."

Tom Hlavenka, 53, a plumber from Daly City, said he was there to vote for Republican presidential candidate John McCain and to support the Indian gaming initiatives.

"I think this country has treated Indians horribly throughout its history," he said. "I will not stand in the way of allowing them to make some money."

Howard Akins, 68, of Richmond, said he voted yes on Measure B, which is a telecommunications tax to raise money for police and other services. He also voted yes on all the state propositions.

"I believe what they are saying," he said, referring to the Indian gaming measures. "It sounded good to me to keep money in California. That's what it's all about. The billions collected over the next decade will help education."

John Lucas, 58, of Richmond, said he voted against the gaming measures.

"I don't trust these people," he said. He would have liked to have seen propositions that benefited all tribes, not just a group.

"I'm not even sure we should have more gambling in California," he said.

Sam Valdez, 51, of Richmond, voted yes on 93, the term limits proposition.

"I think this is a good idea," he said. "They should have more time in office instead of having to spend time and money getting reelected."

But he voted no on Indian gaming.

"We have enough casinos now," he said, adding that he also thought the television ads were misleading.

Anna Mendoza, 32, of Richmond, voted no on every ballot measure.

"Ever time you vote yes, they raise your taxes and I'm against raising taxes," she said.

In Walnut Creek, Jacquelin Ewing, 75, said she voted no on 93 because "it's a veiled attempt to give more power to the people" in Sacramento. She voted no on Indian gaming.

"It's pitiful that our state budget relies on gambling to balance the books," she said. "There's got to be another way."

Leo Pietkiewicz, who said he is older than 70, voted against all the propositions.

"Every time a proposition comes forward, it's somebody asking for more than what was available," the Walnut Creek resident said. "There are too many hands mixed in the pot. They can get it working, but not at the taxpayers' expense. There's a lot of money going into gambling and it's not always clear as to who's getting the money."

In Marin County, many voters said they researched and focused more on presidential politics than on local issues.

Diana Estey, a 42-year-old yoga instructor from Mill Valley, said she voted for Clinton but skipped other issues.

"I don't want to make a decision about something I'm not informed about," she said.

California's record turnout for a primary election - 7.9 million in 2000 - will be shattered if 8.9 million voters cast ballots today as expected. And the 56.6 percent turnout of registered voters predicted in a new Field Poll would be the highest since the 63.3 percent turnout in 1980, when Ronald Reagan defeated George H.W. Bush for the GOP nomination and Sen. Edward Kennedy challenged incumbent President Jimmy Carter for the Democratic nod.

"These are the type of numbers we see in a general election," said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll. "For a primary, this is unprecedented."

Four years ago, with President Bush a lock on the Republican side and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry the overwhelming Democratic favorite, only 6.7 million Californians voted in the March primary, a turnout of 44.3 percent.

"Usually it's only the advocates, the partisans and the regular voters who turn out for a primary race," DiCamillo said. "But the early primary, along with the enthusiasm about the contests, has brought out a vote that looks a lot like a general election."

Secretary of State Debra Bowen isn't issuing the traditional turnout prediction, arguing that it would be little more than a guess.

"With the early primary date this year, there's nothing to base a prediction on," said Kate Folmar, a spokeswoman for Bowen. "The secretary of state is confident voters will turn out in strong numbers."

Previous Page

Election Problem Log image
2004 to 2009


Accessibility Issues
Accessibility Issues

Cost Comparisons
Cost Comparisons

Flyers & Handouts

VotersUnite News Exclusives

Search by

Copyright © 2004-2010 VotersUnite!