Californians head to the polls Tuesday to cast their votes in what has become the most expensive general election campaign for governor in state history.
Polls opened around San Diego County at 7 a.m. as voters choose whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use and in San Diego, whether to approve a half-cent sales tax.
Checking in at a few polling places around town, turnout seems to be higher than expected.
When San Diegan Bryce Ashey got up this morning to vote, he had one message to send.
“Most likely to get California to balance the dang budget,” Ashey said outside his polling place in Hillcrest. “We’ve got to pay the bills and we’ve got pay them on time.”
“For me, with the economy and everything else, and all the issues going on nowadays with that, it felt really important to get out and actually vote one direction or the other,” he said.
Turnout is expected to be between 55 and 65 percent, or 9.5 million people according to a Field Poll released Tuesday. Twelve of the last 13 gubernatorial elections have had voter turnouts higher than 55 percent, according to the Sacramento Bee.
In San Diego County, more than 726, 000 mail ballots were issued with 351,000 returned so far. As of Sunday, thousands of locals had already voted at the County Registrar of Voters Office to cast an early vote. More than 5,300 voters made the trip before Election Day.
It’s been quite busy at the poll inside the Price Center on the University of California San Diego campus according to an assistant precinct worker.
“I’ve worked several elections and this is not quite as comparable as the presidential election but it’s probably the second-largest turnout I’ve seen since I’ve been working elections,” said Charles Oakey.
For sophomore Don Ripatti, the polling place on campus is a better alternative to driving 500 miles to vote in his hometown. “I guess I could send an absentee ballot but why not come down here and do this in person,” said Ripatti.
Daniel Olsen, just 18, voted for the first time Tuesday. “I think it’s a student’s responsibility to vote,” Olsen said. “I just registered three weeks ago and now I’m voting.” He assured us he voted for "all the right people."
Former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman and former Hewlett-Packard Co. chief executive Carly Fiorina are hoping to capitalize on Californians' sour mood over the slow rate of economic recovery to defeat Democratic Party elder Jerry Brown and oust Sen. Barbara Boxer from the Senate seat she has held for 18 years. The GOP is hoping the same approach will win swing voters in a handful of highly competitive congressional races.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is hoping to send Washington a message to create a new national energy policy by asking voters to trounce Proposition 23. The initiative, funded primarily by Texas oil companies, would suspend implementation of the state's Global Warming Solutions Act until state unemployment drops to 5.5 percent and stays there for a year, which rarely occurs.
Voters also are being asked to lower the voting threshold for passing the budget out of the state Legislature from two-thirds to a simple majority, in the hope of ending stalemates in Sacramento.
San Diegans will vote at nearly 1500 polling places in San Diego County before polls close at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
The San Diego County Democratic Party will hold an election night party starting at 8:30 p.m. at the W Hotel downtown. At 9 p.m., the Republican Party of San Diego County will hold its election night celebration at downtown's Johnny Brown's on Third Ave.
NBC San Diego will provide continuous local coverage from 8 to 11 p.m. on Channel 4. Watch NBC News national election coverage from 9 to 11 p.m. tonight on NBC 7/39. At 11 p.m., local coverage continues on NBC 7/39 with live reporters from Golden Hall as well as with the Brown, Whitman, Boxer and Fiorina campaigns.
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