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Politics

Many San Diegans sit out the primary vote

Chula Vista resident Andre Phillips cast his primary ballot from his car at the county Registrar of Voters in San Diego Tuesday.

"It is pretty convenient, you know. I’m a permanent mail ballot (voter). I think it’s the best way to go as far as getting more people to vote because it’s, you know, easier to do and it’s just easier to just drop it off," he said.

Typically the registrar’s office is buzzing on Election Day with people voting, people dropping off ballots, and employees directing traffic and sorting ballots, but Registrar of Voters Cynthia Paes said that, despite the many options and opportunities San Diegans have to vote, many just won’t show up. "We anticipate anywhere from a 30 to a 40% turnout in this primary rolling off of the recall election. Last year we saw a 60% turnout," she said. "So I thought that interest would still be out there since this is the governor’s race, but it did seem to wane a little bit."

Get general information about the election, news coverage, an interactive ballot guide and results on Election Day.

She said that, in San Diego County, before voting by mail was the norm, 80% of registered voters permanently registered to vote by mail. Also voters have been early voting for 10 days, so turnout at the polling centers was expected to be sparse.

"Over 1.9 million ballots were mailed out to the county’s registered voters nearly a month ago, so many people have already acted on those ballots. We’ve received back in the office close to 400,000 mail-in ballots that will be part of that first election night count tonight," she said.

Jim Aiken, the site manager of the SDSU vote center, has been working Election Day for decades. He said he’s not seeing a lot of voters, but he is seeing a lot of people walking in and registering to vote for the first time. "It’s actually a wonderful experience for old guys like me to see someone who turned 18 the day before walk in and say, 'My mom said I can come in and vote,' and we say: 'She was right,'" he said.

There weren't many people at the SDSU center, either, something voter Keith Reid joked about. "I bought the place out so I can come in and vote by myself," he said with a chuckle.

Reid said he was proud to exercise his right to vote, adding that it’s easy and saying he finds it hard to believe people sit out on Election Day. "It’s important because all of the things that are happening in the world today. We need to tell people what’s going on and tell people what we want and therefore you can’t complain if you don’t vote," he said.

For Manuel Unanua from Chula Vista, voting is about having a say in how the problems in the community will get solved. He said: "For me, coming to vote is a big thing. For me, it’s important to be a part of the solution not of the problem. I like for my voice to be heard — I like to participate in the community."

Voters who don't have their ballots or are not registered can vote provisionally at any polling location. Polling places are open until 8 o'clock Tuesday night.