Tuesday, November 2, 2010
San Diego County Registrar of Voters, Deborah Seiler, will join us to talk about turnout and give us last-minute voting tips about where to cast your ballot or where to drop it off.
San Diegans are casting their votes today. As part of KPBS election coverage, we've been talking about the candidates and the issues for weeks now. But now it all comes down to the voters - letting their voices be heard at the ballot box.
Deborah Seiler, San Diego County Registrar of Voters.
On Election Night, KPBS News will have live results and in-depth analysis of local, state and national races. Follow the action throughout the night at KPBS.org, and listen to KPBS FM 89.5 for updates and live reports from San Diego's campaign headquarters. KPBS will also broadcast NPR's Election Special beginning at 5 p.m.
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MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, you're listening to These Days on KPBS. San Diegans are casting their votes today. As part of KPBS election coverage. We've been talking about the candidates and the issues for weeks, but now it all comes down to the voters, letting their votes be heard at the ballot Box 1 person who is very close to the ballot box in San Diego, is my guest, Debra Sylar, San Diego registrar of voters. Good morning.
DEBRA SYLAR: Good morning.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now we just heard from Ed Joyce reporting from south Mission Beach about how the poling is going there.
DEBRA SYLAR: We had a very quiet morning. It was almost extraordinarily quiet. We wondered if the phones were working. The poles seemed to open on time. We had a couple of minor hiccups, a couple of people lost their keys and had to run back to find them. But other than that, we've just been hearing that things have been going quite smoothly.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And remind us, what type of ballots are being used in today's election?
DEBRA SYLAR: The type of ballot that voters will see when they go to the poles are the same they have been seeing for the last couple of years, it's a large paper ballot, and it looks just the same as it did in June.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How many absentee ballots did you send out for this election?
DEBRA SYLAR: Over 700000 mail ballots to voters. And actually in this morning's mail, we got another 22000.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm wondering, is that pretty standard. Or do we see that mail- in ballot just increasing and increasing every election cycle.
DEBRA SYLAR: The trend has certainly been going up. But we see that there are different classes of mail ballot voters, those who like to vote early, get it in, and those who tend to wait to the last empty, and even those who drop them off at the poles on election day. So we anticipate that today we will probably receive another, I don't know for sure, 15000 ballots dropped off at these polling places.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What is the proper procedure for people who still have the mail in ballot? Should they put it in the nail.
DEBRA SYLAR: Not today. The ballots must be received at our office or at a polling place when the poles closed. So certainly if a person has a mail ballot in their hands, they should vote it and drop it off in a polling place or bring it to our office in Kearny Mesa.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, have you been hearing about how many people have been turning up at the poles? Have you gotten any reports about how many people, or are there any lines?
DEBRA SYLAR: As far as I can tell, things are going quite smoothly. I have not heard of lines. But at the same time, I'm afraid I don't have a projected turnout figure from the poles.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Do you have any idea how many people might be voting today?
DEBRA SYLAR: I'm guessing that -- if my projections are correct, we could have, perhaps about 400000 people voting at the poles today. And that's in addition to the people who will be dropping off their mail ballots and those folks who have already mailed in their ballots.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We've been hearing that the turn out for an election like this is usually between, what is it? 60 and 70 percent? Is that too high?
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That's a little too high. It's generally between about 55 and maybe 65 percent. Most typically, I think the turn out here has ranged between 57 percent and the hoe 60s.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It's kind of funny. Dwayne brown mentioned it when he was talking about the weather, and we have this notion when it's a beautiful day out, more people turn out to vote. Is that really the truth even here in San Diego.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Oh, I think that weather does affect turn out somewhat. I don't know how major the impact certainly is. But certainly it's a beautiful day today and voters just don't have any excuse in the to get out to their polling place.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: This this election cycle, there have been speculations about how many people might be very excited about this election. And which party would be more excited to participate. And we've heard some people talking about who has sent in their mill- in ballot it is already. How do pollsters find that out? You don't start counting the mail- in ballots on election day.
DEBRA SYLAR: We have reported results on the number returned. We have -- at this point in time, we have 124,000 ballots back from Democrats and a 153,000 back from Republicans, excluding today's mail, of course, which we don't have a number for yet. And when those ballots come back in, now legally starting about seven working days before the election, we're allowed to slice those ballot envelopes, pull them out and begin scalping them. We don't release any results until after the poles close at 8:00 o'clock.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And what happens after the poles close at 8:00 o'clock.
DEBRA SYLAR: When the poles close, generally, tree, 4, 5 minutes after eight, we post the results and for this election, I'm anticipating if my turn out election projections are correct, I'm anticipating that shortly after eight, the first report will constitute about a third of all the poles cast in the election. Right after those poles close, we can release the numbers from the ballots even tallying.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: There have been elections where I know that you've basically sort of warned the media and the public, this ballot counting could take quite some time. Is that one of the things you're warning us this time or does it look a little bit different?
DEBRA SYLAR: Well, as I say, at 8:00 o'clock, we get probably a third of the vote, but then yes, all of these ballots that are voted at the poles, the county is 4000 square miles, they come in from all over the county, then we start scanning those ballots here at our warehouse in Kearny Mesa. That process is somewhat slow, and the first precinct reports will probably be out some time after 10:00 o'clock, but we won't finish until after midnight today.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What if someone doesn't know their polling place today? What can they do?
DEBRA SYLAR: The best thing to do, if a person has their sample ballot booklet that we mailed to them, we list the poling place right on the back of the booklet. And probably the easiest thing, if they have access to a computer is to log into our website and click on the find your poling place. They just put in their street number, their birth date and their Zip Code, and that will give the location.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How about if they just go into any poling place? They really don't want know where they need to be? Can they fill out -- what is that kind of ballot called?
DEBRA SYLAR: That's called a provisional ballot. And voters can do that. It's not really we really encourage. Because if a vote are goes to the wrong polling place, they might not receive the ballot for their home precinct. So they could be disenfranchised as to certain contests. They will certainly see the race for governor and U.S. senate and all of that. But for some of the very important local contests, they might be missed on that.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I understand of so it's best to find out where you're supposed to be. And my last question to you, Debra, is considering this as a would you feel day, considering there's apparently been a lot of interest in this election, what is the best time for people to go to poles to avoid long lines? Is that still the middle of the afternoon?
DEBRA SYLAR: Yes, it is, a lot of voters go before they go to working and then after work at 5:00 o'clock, things get busy again. So really, if voters have the opportunity to vote midday, they should certainly take advantage of that.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Well, I know you've always talked to us on one of your busiest days, Debra, and we really do appreciate it. Thanks so much.
DEBRA SYLAR: You're so welcome.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That was Debra Sylar, San Diego registrar of voters. The poles will be open until eight tonight. Then follow the results on line at KPBS.org or listen right here at KPBS FM for updates and live reports from San Diego's campaign headquarters. You're listening to These Days on KPBS.