2012 General Election


A Snapshot of Bay Area Voters’ Experiences

A record number of Californians are registered to vote in Tuesday’s election, and we have invited you to let us know how your voting experience went. Many of you responded both online and by phone calls.

UPDATE 7: 39 p.m.: We’ve received nearly 100 submissions from voters throughout California. Here are some of their stories:

  • Elaine Connolly voted at Fire Station 26 in Castro Valley: “Night time, at the Lucille entrance no lights, no flags or bunting or signs to alert people of a voting place though it was being held in the gym. The volunteers weren’t helpful, gave me wrong directions, delays because I was put at wrong table which couldn’t communicate with the correct table. When asked to speak with the ‘boss’ was told she wasn’t in attendance, she’d gone.”
  • Debi Cortez voted on La Playa Street in San Francisco: “No wait at all the staff were smiling and greeted me as I came in. They seemed well organized and eager to help and very nice. They gave my granddaughter a sticker and she was excited.”
  • Michael Accinno voted at the Davis Senior Center: “I arrived at my polling station at 7:15 a.m. shortly after it opened, and there was little to no wait. I was in and out within 5 minutes- all in all, it was a breeze.”
  • Rachael Maier voted on California Street in San Francisco: “I was in and out in a matter of 10 minutes. The volunteers were nice, helpful, and really gracious when some not-so-pleasant voters tried giving them a hard time (‘Why is there no American flag out front? That’s WRONG!’)

Photo by Karl Jagbandhansingh

UPDATE 3:33 p.m.: From KQED’s Aarti Shahani: Karl Jagbandhansingh said he voted at Oakland’s Sojourner Truth Manor, 6015 Martin Luther King Jr Way. He said the only machine that counts ballots at this voting station stopped working around 12:45 p.m. One poll worker – who said he was the inspector – started stacking ballots on top of the machine. Jagbandhansingh said he saw the stack get knocked over and ballots strewn on the floor.

When Jagbandhansingh left, around 1:45 p.m., a woman who was the supervisor just began getting the counting machine to work.

Original post:

A sample of the online responses we’ve received so far:

  • Rebecca Petzel of San Francisco described her experience as “positive,” adding “No wait. Lots of space to accomodate many voters at once. I could take my time in the voting ‘booth’ without feeling like I was holding up other voters. Great job San Francisco!”
  • Tracy Anne Sena, also of San Francisco had quite a different experience. “As I was waiting to sign in, a poll worker was on the phone reporting that many of the names in the middle of the alphabet on the voter roll were missing. I didn’t ask a followup question as she was still on the phone as I finished voting. (Thankfully, I am an ‘S’ and not affected.)
  • Gayle Strang of Fremont said her polling place is “in my living room; I voted by absentee mail in ballot.” She says absentee voting gave her “time to research and discuss with my family.”

We also asked if voters experiences had been generally positive or negative. Our colleagues at KPCC have mapped the responses we received so far by polling place. The red markers are negative experiences, the green are positive experiences.

In addition, we had some compelling stories left by voicemail and you can listen here:

Continue reading

Sandy’s Victims Head to Polls in Large Numbers

POINT PLEASANT, N.J. (AP) — Election Day turnout was heavy Tuesday in several storm-ravaged areas in New York and New Jersey, a welcome change from crisis to catharsis for many who saw exercising their civic duty as a sign of normalcy amid lingering devastation.

Lines were long in Point Pleasant, N.J., where residents from the Jersey Shore communities of Point Pleasant Beach and Mantoloking had to cast their ballots due to damage in their hometowns.

Many there still have no power eight days after Sandy pummeled the shore.

Fewer than 100 polling places around the state were without power compared with 800 just days ago.

Sarah Brewster of Long Beach, N.Y., was shaken when she entered a school to vote. She noticed that the clocks were all stopped at 7:27. That’s the time one week ago Monday when everyone in her community had lost power. Tears streamed down her face as she emerged from the school cafeteria. Brewster, who works at a nonprofit, said voting is “part of our civic responsibility in the midst of all this crisis.”

Retired customer service agent Joan Andrews, who fled her trailer in Moonachie by boat a week ago, said, “I always have to vote, especially now. Many friends of the 68-year-old woman were too overwhelmed to vote, but Andrews said she’d encouraged them to take the time. Continue reading

Live Blog Preview: Obama vs. Romney; Final Swing State Polls

Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama at the first presidential debate.


Tonight we’ll be live blogging presidential results,  U.S. Senate races, hotly contested House seats in California, propositions, select State Assembly results, and local  contests around the Bay Area. A look at the presidential picture, below. Also see 9 Key Senate Races.

The other day one of our reporters who drew the assignment of gathering local reaction to the presidential election asked the practical question, “Should I go out on the streets or go into the bars?”

The answer, of course: depends who wins. If it’s Obama, I say our reporter should head for the celebrations in the street. If it’s Romney, hit the drinking establishments and home in on the sad sacks throwing down double bourbons like a bereft Humphrey Bogart trying his best to forget Ingrid Bergman. And don’t forget to keep your ears open for mumbling about “moving to Canada” and “goddamn Ohio.”

Meaning, of course, it’s no secret who a sizable majority of the people within the sound of KQED’s radio signal will be rooting for. The Bay Area is sort of the home field for the Democratic team, which you can confirm either by looking out your window at the political signs, checking your Facebook friends’ status updates, or browsing the 2008 election results by California county; Obama’s majority ranged from 63.5 percent in Solano to 84 percent in San Francisco. Because the left-of-left constituency here may grumble about the Democratic squad during the season, but when it comes to the World Series, everyone’s wearing the correct hat. Continue reading

What’s Known About the Groups Behind the $11 Million ‘Money Laundering’

(401(K) 2012: Flickr)

(401(K) 2012: Flickr)

Here’s what we can glean about the groups that funneled $11 million into California to try to defeat Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax measure — Prop. 30 —  and to pass Prop. 32 — which would limit unions’ ability to raise political funds:

The state Fair Political Practices Commission announced earlier today that Americans for Responsible Leadership, the Arizona group that last month made the $11 million contribution to a California PAC, had identified the “true source” of the donation: a Virginia-based group called Americans for Job Security. That organization in turn funneled the money back to Americans for Responsible Leadership through yet another group, the Center to Protect Patient Rights. We cannot find a website for it. The Center’s address is listed as a P.O. box in Phoenix.

Completely lost? Let’s review the steps — steps which the FPPC characterizes as “campaign money laundering” under California law:

  1. Americans for Job Security (Virginia) sent money to the Center to Protect Patient Rights (P.O. box in Phoenix)
  2. The Center to Protect Patient Rights sent it to Americans for Responsible Leadership (Arizona)
  3. Americans for Responsible Leadership in turn sent $11 million to the Small Business Action Committee PAC, here in California. One might assume the PAC lost no time in dumping the money into TV ads to defeat Prop. 30 and to pass Prop. 32. The Sacramento Bee’s Capitol Alert lays out the money trail, complete with dates.
(T)he money trail in a case like this $11 million contribution to the California initiative campaigns leads not to individuals, but to a few organizations that are impervious to public scrutiny.

Now we have the names of the committees involved. How about the people or companies who were the source of the money in the first place? We’re in the dark about that, thanks to federal law and court rulings that allow a wide spectrum of political donors to keep their identities secret. Continue reading

Obama, Romney Race to Reach Every Voter in Battleground States

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The White House the prize, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney raced through a final full day of campaigning on Monday through Ohio and other battleground states holding the keys to victory in a tight race. Both promised brighter days ahead for a nation still struggling with a sluggish economy and high joblessness.

“Our work is not done yet,” Obama told a cheering crowd of nearly 20,000 in chilly Madison, Wis., imploring his audience to give him another four years.

Romney projected optimism as he neared the end of his six-year quest for the presidency. “If you believe we can do better. If you believe America should be on a better course. If you’re tired of being tired … then I ask you to vote for real change,” he said in a Virginia suburb of the nation’s capital. With many of the late polls in key states tilting slightly against him, he decided to campaign on Election Day in Ohio and Pennsylvania, where he and Republicans made a big, late push.

The presidency aside, there are 33 Senate seats on the ballot Tuesday, and according to one Republican official, a growing sense of resignation among his party’s rank and file that Democrats will hold their majority. Continue reading

Anti-DREAM Act Candidate Reveals He Entered U.S. Illegally As Child

Pedro Rios, Republican candidate for 32nd Assembly District.

Pedro Rios, Republican candidate for 32nd Assembly District. (Pedro Rios for State Assembly)

Thirty years ago, Pedro Rios was smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico by his uncle. Today he is a citizen and a Republican candidate for the 32nd Assembly District, which includes part of Bakersfield and an area to the north of the Central Valley city.

In between, Rios benefitted from President Reagan’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a 1986 law which provided a path to citizenship for people who had entered the country illegally. Rios became a citizen in 1996.

But these details were not public until late October. While his Democratic opponent, Bakersfield City Councilman Rudy Salas says he won’t make an issue of Rios’ prior undocumented status, people are taking issue with Rios’ refusal to back President Obama’s DREAM Act, a policy to allow young people who have come to the U.S. illegally to apply for legal residency.

Jose Gaspar, a columnist with the Bakersfield Californian talked to Candi Easter, chair of the Democratic Party of Kern County:

“I think it’s honorable that Rios came here undocumented and became a citizen,” Easter added. “But what I find dishonorable is his opposition to the DREAM Act,” she said. The DREAM Act is proposed federal legislation that would grant a path to citizenship for qualified undocumented youth in this country. And in fact, Rios admits he is against the legislation, saying he wants comprehensive immigration reform instead. Continue reading

Study: Soda Tax Would Boost Health of Blacks, Latinos

By Christina Jewett, Bay Citizen

(Tessek: Flickr)

(Tessek: Flickr)

A tax on soda would carry the greatest health benefits for black and Latino Californians, who face the highest risks of diabetes and heart disease, according to recent research findings.

The study found that if a penny-per-ounce tax was applied to soda, cuts in consumption would result in an 8 percent decline in diabetes cases among blacks and Latinos. The statewide reduction in new diabetes cases is projected at 3 to 5.6 percent, according to researchers from UC San Francisco, Columbia University and Oregon State University, who released their findings at last week’s American Public Health Association annual meeting in San Francisco.

The study was unveiled as a sugar-sweetened beverage tax faces votes in El Monte, in Los Angeles County, and Richmond, in the Bay Area. A statewide excise tax was proposed but died in the California Legislature in 2010.

The statewide reduction in new diabetes cases is projected at 3 to 5.6 percent.

Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, said he has visited Richmond to urge support for the measure. He said he heard residents speak of loved ones who’ve been affected by diabetes complications — such as limb amputations and blindness — during a recent town hall meeting at a Richmond church.

Goldstein said residents of both cities, though, face the pressure of nearly $3 million in spending by the beverage industry, which opposes the measures. Continue reading

The 4 Propositions You’re Most Interested In…

If you want to sport this sticker, you'll have to decipher the state ballot and then vote. (EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images)

If you want to sport this sticker, you'll have to decipher the state ballot and then vote. (EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images)

by Lisa Aliferis and Jon Brooks

It’s getting down to the wire — just seven days to make up your mind on a plethora of issues and races … and then ya gotta vote.

Lucky you: We’re here to help.

Our reports about Props. 30 and 38 (education and taxes); the nine-item Prop. 31 (governance) and Prop. 37 (labeling GMO foods) are attracting a lot of attention online. So either we’ve really figured out this SEO thing, or you’re genuinely interested in those initiatives in particular.

Thus, we’re compiling the best-of-the-best of our coverage on these props so that you don’t have to stand in the voting booth pondering whether numerological concerns aren’t going to be the one determining factor after all in how you vote on these things, complex as they are, yet sold, packaged and soundbited by opponents and proponents alike direct to your Id.

So read up!

Proposition 30 and Proposition 38 both promise to fund schools, but in different ways.

Proposition 31 will do nine (yes, 9) different things, attempting to overhaul state governance. God knows California governance needs overhaul, but is Prop. 31 the right approach?

Proposition 37 requires the labeling of genetically modified ingredients in foods.

If you need information on still more props, here’s a bonus:

Proposition 32 (campaign spending)


You can always consult our Proposition Guide for concise information about all 11 props. on the California ballot.

California’s Mormons Not Necessarily United for Romney

By Stephanie Martin

(Pferriola: Flickr)

The temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Oakland. (Pferriola: Flickr)

Since first arriving in California in the mid-1800’s, members of the Mormon faith have played an active role in the state’s civic and cultural life.

They’ve colonized settlements, built businesses, served in the legislature, and — as recently as four years ago — Mormon congregations helped get out the vote for Proposition 8, the statewide ban on same sex marriage.

The Mormon church officially holds a neutral position about Mitt Romney’s candidacy for president. But during the campaign I’ve spoken with individual Mormons around the state about the intersection of faith and politics in this year’s presidential election.

Just like other religious groups in America, “(Mormons) are not a solid and completely monolithic voting block.”

In general the California Mormons I spoke with agreed that counting a U.S. president among their ranks would mark an important first for their faith. But when I asked how they felt about the man who could win that distinction — Republican nominee Mitt Romney — I heard a wide range of opinions.

I met Modesto resident Tresa Edmunds at a San Francisco gathering called “Circling the Wagons” — part of a series of supportive conferences for gay and lesbian Mormons, their family and friends. Edmunds was raised Mormon. Continue reading

A Supporter and Opponent Explain Prop. 31’s ‘Community Strategic Action Plans’


Sacramento Capital. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Proposition 31 might win the battle for the longest and most complex ballot measure. At more than 8,000 words Prop. 31 is an opus to California Forward‘s attempt to restructure and rebuild California’s government from the core. To do that it outlines nine main changes:

  1. Establishes a two-year budget cycle
  2. Permits the governor to make unilateral budget cuts during fiscal emergencies
  3. Requires all bills to be published three days prior to a vote
  4. Forces lawmakers to identify a funding source for new programs or tax deductions
  5. Requires performance reviews
  6. Defines specific goals for the state budget and all local government budgets
  7. Allows local governments to establish “Community Strategic Action Plans”
  8. Allocates $200 million a year in sales tax to those plans
  9. Allows local governments to transfer local property taxes among themselves.

Whew, that’s a lot.

But one component of the initiative is particularly opaque: What are these “Community Strategic Action Plans”? What are they supposed to do? KQED called California Forward’s Executive Director Kristin Connelly to ask her specifically about the plans. California Forward wrote and sponsored Prop. 31. Continue reading