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Californians Cast Votes on Gay Marriage, Abortion

Californians swept Democrat Barack Obama to the presidency as they voted in anticipated record numbers Tuesday. They also cast ballots on a dozen propositions, including high-profile initiatives aimin

Californians swept Democrat Barack Obama to the presidency as they voted in anticipated record numbers Tuesday. They also cast ballots on a dozen propositions, including high-profile initiatives aiming to ban gay marriage and require doctors to notify parents before minors receive abortions.

Voters already battered by a faltering economy and the state's projected $10 billion deficit appeared poised to reject several of the eight measures that asked them to authorize billions of dollars in additional spending.

Prompted by a surge in voter registration, Democrats spent heavily in hopes of winning six Assembly districts now held by Republicans. Democrats had early leads in two of those races Tuesday night, while Republicans were holding on to the others.


The party also poured money into several California congressional districts that had been considered safe for Republicans because of the state's highly gerrymandered political system. Most appeared safe, although Republican Tom McClintock and Democrat Charlie Brown were locked in a tight race in the hotly contested 4th Congressional District in Northern California.

A record 17.3 million voters registered, about a million of them since September, according to the Secretary of State's office. Election clerks in some counties predicted turnout as high as 80 percent.

Obama was declared the president-elect after California's polls closed, ensuring him the state's 55 electoral votes.

Proposition 8, a measure to ban gay marriage, was leading with nearly 53 percent with 33 percent of precincts reporting. The campaigns for and against it spent an unprecedented $73 million for a social-issue initiative, flooding the airwaves in a vitriolic feud.

Proposition 4, the abortion initiative, would require a 48-hour waiting period and parental notification before a minor could get an abortion. It was trailing with 48 percent with 34 percent of precincts reporting.

Californians were also asked to approve financing for everything from a high-speed rail system to more drug treatment programs for non-violent offenders. They were a tough sell for an electorate already inundated with bad economic news.

Voters rejected two crime-related measures: Proposition 5, which would have eventually cost $1 billion a year for expanded drug rehabilitation programs and Proposition 6, which would have stiffened penalties for gang crimes and made possession of methamphetamine a felony for about $1 billion.

They also defeated Proposition 7, which would have required utilities to generate half their electricity from renewable sources by 2025, likely driving up costs for consumers.

Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger campaigned heavily in the final weeks for Proposition 11, an initiative that would take away lawmakers' power to draw the boundaries of state legislative districts, theoretically making them more competitive.

That measure was leading with 52 percent in early returns.

California Democrats hoped to do something they haven't in decades - gain a two-thirds majority in the state Assembly, giving them control over the state budget and any tax proposals.

A measure sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States to give farm animals more space won with an estimated 62 percent of the vote in early returns. Opponents said it would force major egg producers to move out of state if approved.