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KPBS Midday Edition

Early Voting Starts In San Diego

A "vote here" sign welcomes voters at the San Diego County Registrar of Voters Office in Kearny Mesa on May 31, 2014.
Michael Schuerman
A "vote here" sign welcomes voters at the San Diego County Registrar of Voters Office in Kearny Mesa on May 31, 2014.

Early Voting Starts In San Diego
Early Voting Starts In San Diego GUEST: Steve Walsh, reporter, KPBS News

Eager to get this election over with, mail in ballots go out today. Profanity is used by a San Diego organization to highlight the profanity of domestic violence. This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. It's Tuesday, October 11. Our top story, it's the beginning of the end of the 2016 general election. Early voting began yesterday and today the San Diego County registrar of voters starts mailing out ballots. Even in a normal year, the ballot in sample ballot is a large undertaking. This year, like everything about this year's election is extraordinary. Joining me is Steve Walsh who spoke with Michael Vu about this year's mail out. There has been a lot of discussion about how big the city sample ballot is. Can you describe it? It is huge. It's several pamphlets are going out. It's the first time the ballot is going to be printed onto cards both back in front, due to the number of contests. We have 17 state and 35 local propositions and measures. They say, if you've printed it out and held them and to end it would be six feet long. You know how many mail out ballots are going out? 960,000 mail in ballots, they are predicting there will be more than 1 million mail in ballots, for the first time ever. You with a conversation with Michael Vu? We talked about the opening of voting. We are asking voters to consider voting by mail, if you really like to vote at the polls, that's fine. If you are hesitating whether or not to go to the polls, I would say try voting by mail. It's such a lengthy ballot. Are you worried? I'm looking at some things that will be sent to the voters. Are you concerned it could take people a wild to vote and it could lead to long lines. We are. There is always concern, the presidential election will have a high turnout and there will be long lines. What's unusual and may be unprecedented, for the very first time we had to go to a two card ballot. 18 inches in length for each of the cards. The first card that voters will receive and there will be a second card, as well. For the city of San Diego voters, there are contests on the both sides of both cards. We have 84 contests on the ballot. That represents 468 candidates on the ballot and 52 statewide and local measures. That is the registrar voters Michael Vu speaking with KPBS reporter Steve Walsh and Steve, Michael Vu says he's expecting high turnout. Is he making any predictions? California loves to vote, they're one of the high voter turnout states. This is the first time the presidential race that we have an open seat since 2008. 2012, that race about 77% of people turned out in San Diego. 2008, 84% voters turnout. If you listen to Michael Vu, he showed me the number of pamphlets, he was saying of people are coming to the polls and is encouraging people to come to the polls. Study before you get there, ahead of time. If people don't want to go to the polls, they want to mail in or early vote. Remind us of the options. You can request a mail in ballots, through the clerks office or you can vote in person absentee. That started yesterday, it was Columbus Day so it was slow. You can go in and cast a ballot or you can go in on election day. You can vote at the County registrar's office, is that right? Indeed. People in San Diego who are not registered to vote, still have time don't they? They do. Even though voting has started, you can register to vote as late as October 24. You can pick up the forms at the dredges stars office or the post office, the library, the city clerk's office or several locations. Whether you do it early or on November 8. The message from Michael Vu must be vote, vote, vote. I've been speaking with KPBS reporter Steve Walsh. The issue of America's diverse population has played a large and disturbing role. In Southern California that diversity is a hallmark of things to come for the nation. That's the premise of an article in the New York Times. The focus is on Santa Anna and that cities 76% Latino population and all Latino city Council. Many conclusions drawn may extend to San Diego's population. Joining me is Adam Nagorny -- Adam Nagoureny Los Angeles Bureau Chief. What brought the demographic makeup of Santa Anna to your attention? We were looking around California for a community that we thought we could use to explore the thesis of Latinos becoming more of an influence. Santa Anna has a heavy Latino population and the whole city Council is Latino. 25 or 30 years ago there was a case where Republican committee put guards, uniformed guards in front of pulling places to discourage from -- Latinos from voting. The state stepped in and move them away. That dramatically, showed how this part of California has changed over the past 20 or 30 years. You write Latinos are more influence politically in California than any other state. How do you come to that conclusion? We do a lot of reporting and talk to a lot of people. Texas is a contrast, there is a heavy population of Latinos and they control more elected positions. That is a more Republican state, Latinos tend to be Democratic. Republicans in Texas don't have the authority or power that they have here. I think that will change in Texas and Florida and other communities, as the Democrats shift. You spoke, in your article with Lorena Gonzalez, what did she say about Latinas in state legislature? My colleague, Jenny Medina interviewed her and they talked about how Latino power has solidified the government. She said people are more afraid of being seen as not supporting Latinos. She said you could see this most clearly with the rhetoric of Republicans here, there supporting Latino candidates. It's important to point this out, in the context of the presidential campaign, Donald Trump has run a campaign that has included harsh language directed at Mexicans and illegal immigrants. He made an effort to run the primary and talk about running the general election and that disappeared. The article finds this newfound power has not translated into tangible gains for the Latino community in terms of employment and education. Why not? It's a slow process. We've seen improvements, in general the issue of poverty but it takes time for this to happen. Whether you talk to Latinos in political power and they say we of a broader agenda. All that takes a while, Jenny and I thought it was important to point out, Latino political power does not immediately and necessarily translate into a dramatic improvement in the lives of people, who are working in all kinds of places across California. My sense is that the direction we're moving in. It doesn't lead to higher voter turnout either. One issue has been, in California and other places, the Latino turnout is all it relatively low compared to the population. You might have a state a 40% Latino population that are eligible to vote in the voter turnout is considerably below that. One reason why, in states like Nevada, you're watching a closely fought race. Will the Latino voters turnout? States like Arizona and Texas are eventually going to become democratic, because of the belief that as the Latino population grows larger and more Latinos turn out to vote, there will be more democratic votes and democratic power. When you talk to leaders, they are worried about that and trying to address it Tell us more about the focus of your article, the Orange County city of Santa Ana. It seems like long time Latino residents feel empowered. If you go there, the fact that the whole city Council is Latino. The Mayor is Latino. You walk down the main street, most of the signs are in Spanish, most languages you hear is Spanish. Many people Spanish is their first language, you speak to the Latinas there and they are more comfortable living there that they were 30 years ago. I spoke to a person who said the is more comfortable there than in other parts that are more Anglo and more conservative. I cover the East Coast, it's a very different factor of the world. I've been speaking with Adam Nagoureny Los Angeles Bureau Chief for the LA times.

Early voting began Monday in San Diego County and throughout California for the Nov. 8 general election.

The Registrar of Voters Office at 5600 Overland Ave. in Kearny Mesa will be open weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for those who want to fill out a ballot before election day. The office will also be open for weekend voting on Nov. 5 and 6.

Election officials have encouraged voters to apply for mail-in ballots due to the large number of ballot items, many of which are lengthy and complicated, in hopes of reducing wait times on election day at polling places. Around 960,000 ballots will be sent to voters beginning Tuesday.

The last day to apply for a mail ballot is Nov. 1. However, the faster the ballots are filled out and returned, the sooner the votes will be recorded, according to the Registrar of Voters Office.

Time To Cram: California's 17 Ballot Measure Propositions Explained

Voters in the general election will choose a president, members of Congress and the state Legislature, and decide 17 state propositions.

Locally, there are two countywide ballot measures — whether to raise the sales tax by a half-cent to pay for infrastructure projects and to approve or deny a development in the Lilac Hills section of Valley Center — and a dozen questions in the city of San Diego, including the Chargers' plans for a downtown football stadium and convention center annex.

The ballot includes 21 other measures for voters in various cities and special districts — many of them proposed bond issues.

Also to be decided are high-profile runoffs for county supervisor, San Diego city attorney and San Diego City Council.

Debates are scheduled Monday at 6 p.m. in the first two races.

Incumbent Supervisor Dave Roberts and challenger Kristin Gaspar were scheduled to square off at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido, 340 N. Escondido Blvd. City Attorney candidates Mara Elliott and Robert Hickey were set to meet at the California Western School of Law in San Diego, 225 Cedar St.

Explore all national, state and local returns now.