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The San Diego County Registrar of Voters had a busy Monday taking in ballots from San Diegans and expects another busy day on Tuesday.
The county estimated around 42% voter turnout by Monday afternoon but expects that to rise to around 70% by the time Tuesday's deadline hits, which means polling places and ballot drop-off locations should see a wave of late voters before polls close at 8 p.m.
The Registrar's office saw lines stretching around the block on Monday, and NBC 7 got a chance to ask some of them why they showed up.
"We all should be voting. It's a way to express our opinions and beliefs through those that we vote for," one said.
"I think it's my duty as a registered voter to do my duty, so that's the reason I'm coming," another voter offered.
As for who they were voting for and why, opinions differed.
"It's an unnecessary election. It's a waste of money. [Newsom] is going to be up for confirmation again next November. This is a huge waste of taxpayer money," said a man who voted against the recall.
"This governor and this state put the most aggressive lockdowns and businesses were lost, children's educations were compromised, the list goes on and on," a voter in favor of a new governor said.
Voters were asked just two questions.
- Should Governor Gavin Newsom be recalled?
- Who should replace Newsom?
Newsom keeps his post if more than 50% of participating voters answer "no" to the first question. If that doesn't happen, the leading vote-getter among 46 candidates listed under question 2 will take Newsom's seat.
Republican leaders and volunteers spent the second-to-last voting day pushing voters to the polls to chip away at early returns appearing to favor Newsom.
"I encourage anybody who hasn't voted yet to get their ballots turned in," said San Diego Senator Brian Jones (R-38). "People are fed up. They want a new governor, they want a new direction for the state of California, and this is their way of expressing it at the polls.
Click here for important dates in the recall election, where to drop off your ballot, where to vote in person and more voting questions, answered.
All 22 million registered voters in California received a mail-in ballot, though the option to vote in person is still available. Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly 2 to 1 in California, but Jones said recall voters shouldn't be judged by their party affiliation alone.
"I'm convinced a lot of those Democratic voters are voting 'yes' on the recall because they're just as frustrated," he said.
Jones also believes pro-recall voters will have a healthy showing on the final day of voting.
"There's a lot of energy on the 'yes-recall' side, I just think a lot of people are waiting until [Tuesday] to vote, and I hope they flood the polls, and get out there in person to do it," Jones said.
On one hand, Jones believes it would have been helpful for high-profile Republicans to campaign on behalf of GOP candidates as President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have done for Newsom. On the other, he said he thinks voters wouldn't be swayed "by famous surrogates."
"To be quite honest with you, I wish they had. At least come in and argue the 'yes on the recall' side," Jones said.
Biden visited Sacramento and then Long Beach Monday where he campaigned on Newsom's behalf.
The Republican Party of San Diego hosted a district meeting Monday at a restaurant in El Cajon to rile up last-minute voters to head to the polls.
"We're going to get 100% turnout in this room right here," central committee member Dustin Trotter said. Among his gripes with the current administration are "draconian" pandemic lockdowns, ill-effects of school shutdowns, and subpar forest management and the state's water crisis.
"Mishandling of the forest system here in California. I do believe we need to do better thinning our trees out. YOus ee all the fires we have here in the state of California. The water issues that we have -- I do believe, personally, we all can go for more desalination plants," Trotter said.
If Newsom is recalled, his replacement would serve the remainder od his current term until January of 2023. WIn or lose, Jones said the special election is a message to Democrats ahead of the gubernatorial election.