Author Archives: Ian Hill

What Inspired Californians to Vote — And What They Thought of Voting

Via Kyle Akin on Tiny Post.

More than 13 million Californians voted on Nov. 6, according to the secretary of state’s office (when factoring in the uncounted ballots). For Amelia True, her vote reflected her sense of responsibility to those who fought for women’s voting rights.

“I feel connected to my nation when I cast my vote,” she wrote in a comment on KQED’s Facebook page. “I vote because my ancestors fought tirelessly so that I could have just as much of a deciding voice about the future of my country as a man. I vote for my great grandmothers, grandmothers, mothers, daughters and granddaughters.”

Robert Ashton of San Rafael also commented that his family inspired him to vote.

“My WW II father (told me) me when I was eight, as he took me to the polls with him, that this — exerting our right to vote — is what we owe to those who were sacrificed in battle to preserve that right,” he wrote.

During the past few months — over a variety of projects — KQED has interviewed dozens of Californians about voting. We also asked users of the Palo Alto-based mobile app Tiny Post to share their inspiration for voting in a photograph. On Election Day we heard from more than 100 Californians about their voting experiences.

Most of the comments about Bay Area polling places were positive.

“Overall the experience was very easy, smooth, and fast,” wrote Jennifer Koth of Livermore. “There was no wait and I felt the volunteers were personable but not pushy. I also felt good because I brought a piece of paper in listing how I wanted to vote on the issues happening in my area.”

Click on the polling locations in the map below to read what other area residents had to say about voting.

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President Obama’s Re-Election Honeymoon (on Social Media) Continues, But For How Long?

One reaction on social media to President Obama’s re-election can be summed up by the popular meme at right.

(You’ve probably seen the president’s celebratory “Four More Years” photo everywhere on Facebook and Twitter. With more than four million “Likes,” it’s Facebook’s most-Liked photo ever. It’s been re-tweeted more than 790,000 times, the most RTs ever.)

Of course, President Obama was a social media star even before he was re-elected, and he’ll probably continue to generate a flood of Likes and RTs through the rest of his term. The Oxford Internet Institute found that the president would have defeated Mitt Romney handily if the election had been based on Twitter references. And on Thursday, the word “Obama” had been used in more than one million Tweets, according to the social search website Topsy.  Also trending Thursday on Twitter in the U.S. – “Karl Rove” and “GOP.” But not really in a good way.

But since the election, another term that’s probably more of a concern to the president has started to make its way onto social media:

Fiscal cliff.Continue reading

4 Ways You Know You’re in California on Election Day

A multilingual "Vote here" sign is displayed as a woman pushes a stroller out of the voting room at Christ Lutheran Church in Monterey Park, Los Angeles. FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

It can be disheartening to be a Californian on Election Day. Sure, California has 10 percent of the country’s total electoral votes. But it it often seems to get treated like an afterthought by the media. Pundits don’t use the same breathless excitement to describe the Golden State as they do, say, Ohio. And there’s typically no surprise as to which presidential candidate the state will support.

So it’s no surprise that California may have mixed emotions about today. We asked our Facebook followers how they know it’s election day in California. Here’s what they said.

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How to Follow the Election on Twitter

Scott Beale/Laughing Squid

Twitter can be a great resource if you’re looking for the latest updates and perspective on today’s election. It can also be an incredibly frustrating source for news.

Throughout the day reporters, news organizations, politicians, voters and others will be sharing concise, up-to-the-second information about who’s winning, who’s losing and what it might mean for the country. All that chatter can create a lot of noise. Consider that more than 105,000 Tweets were being sent every minute at one point during the Oct. 22 presidential debate.

To help separate the wheat from the chaff KQED News created several resources for Twitter users looking for updates on the election — lists and hashtags we’ll be following today as we Tweet from @KQEDnews.

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A Breeze or a Nightmare: What Was Your Voting Experience Like?

Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

Polling places around the state could be crowded today, as a record number of Californians — more than 18 million — are registered to vote. We want to know what it’s like at your polling location.

How long is the wait? Are the volunteers helpful? Is anything at your polling place preventing you from voting? Is it easier than you expected?

We want to hear from voters throughout California. Your stories can help inform election coverage for KQED in San Francisco and KPCC in Los Angeles. Click here for KPCC’s election coverage.

You can share your story by calling 1-415-553-8455 or emailing You can also describe your voting experience by filling out the form below and clicking submit.

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5 Reasons to Switch Political Parties

A young man considers his options before registering to vote in October at San Francisco State University. Photo by Ian Hill/KQED

Last week we profiled two area residents who have switched political parties: a former Republican who said he’d be voting for President Obama on Tuesday and a former Democrat who is now a registered member of the GOP. As you might expect in a contentious election year, their stories generated some heated comments in our online forums (as well as a few emails and phone calls).

That led us to wonder: if there is such a significant and widening ideological divide in the country, what would it take for other area voters to switch political parties?

To help us answer that question we turned to our Facebook followers and asked them to finish this sentence: “I would switch political parties if…”

Some of the responses we received were humorous, others enlightening. But in general, we heard five answers.

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What Isn’t Government For?

Photo by Tom Ray/Flickr

Throughout this election year KQED has been reporting on the responsibilities of government and the role it plays in the lives of Americans. We’ve spoken to young voters about their opinions of government for our “Voices of Young Voters” project; we’ve shared KQED listeners’ thoughts on government through our essay series, Perspectives; and this spring we asked you what you wanted from your elected officials.

It’s part of our effort to explore the question of what is government for. That’s the theme for our election coverage this year, and it’s a topic that was discussed again this morning on KQED’s Forum.

But of course, that’s not the only question voters will be considering when they head to the polls Nov. 6. They’ll also be thinking about what government shouldn’t be doing.

So we decided to see what our Facebook followers thought government isn’t for.

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Obama and Romney and Posey and Cain: How to Watch the Giants AND the Debate

Want to watch the debate and the Giants game at the same time? You may want to take note of how Nick Juliano watches college football. Photo courtesy Nick Juliano.

At 5 p.m. the San Francisco Giants will take the field for what could be the last time this season. (Hey, we’re not hoping, we’re just saying, you know, it’s a possiblity.) An hour later, the presidential candidates will take the stage for what will be the final debate before the election. (And this one we’re pretty sure about).

Two decades ago, in that pre-DVR wilderness, that might’ve created a dilemma for Bay Area residents. Do you turn your television to the Giants game and root the team on to the World Series? Or do you watch the debate and learn more about the candidates vying to lead the free world? Or do you go to a loud, crowded bar and hope to do both at the same time?

Fortunately, those days are behind us. Chances are you have at least two televisions and at least one mobile device that will allow you to watch the game while following the debate, or vice versa, in the peace and quiet of your own home. Here’s where you can find the events on air, online and on mobile: Continue reading

Will Millennials Have a Big Impact on the Election? Yes, No and Maybe

San Francisco State University student Sonya Soltani writes "To Have a Voice!" on a backpack that asks "Why Vote?" Ian Hill/KQED.

An estimated 46 million eligible voters in this year’s election are between 18 and 29 years old – part of the Millennial generation. Will those young voters sway the election? What issues do young people feel are important? What role do they think government should play in their lives? KQED and three other public media organizations on the West Coast are exploring those questions in a series called “Voices of Young Voters.” We fanned out to college campuses around the Bay Area to hear from those who are just coming of age politically.

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The Military, Public Schools and the DMV: How Government Shapes the Opinions of College Students

University of California, Berkeley students protest on campus in 2011. Photo by Max Whittaker/Getty Images

An estimated 46 million eligible voters in this year’s election are between 18 and 29 years old – part of the Millennial generation. Will those young voters sway the election? What issues do young people feel are important? What role do they think government should play in their lives? KQED and three other public media organizations on the West Coast are exploring those questions in a series called “Voices of Young Voters.” We fanned out to college campuses around the Bay Area to hear from those who are just coming of age politically.

Nathan Bickart

Nathan Bickart knows it could have been worse.

“Growing up in Marin County, the public schools are incredibly well-funded, and so I’ve had really positive experiences,” said Bickart, 21, of Mill Valley. “But I know that there’s inequality in terms of access to the kind of education I was given.

“I was taking a few education classes (in college) where we like worked in schools in Oakland and in Richmond, and obviously they’re not as well-funded and well off,” said Bickart, who is now a student at the University of California, Berkeley.

Experiences like those have helped shape the opinions of Bickart and other young people weighing political issues this election year. KQED recently asked students at five Bay Area colleges to describe their experiences with government; the stories they shared ranged from serving in the military to waiting in line at the DMV to receiving federal grants to help pay for college. Continue reading