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Another Fallout From the Foreclosure Crisis: Voting

By Rachel Dornhelm

In South Merced, foreclosure hit this neighborhood hard. All but two homes have been foreclosed upon, a neighbor says. Hook ups in this empty lot mark where another home was never built. (Photo: Rachel Dornhelm)

All but two homes in this South Merced neighborhood have been foreclosed on, a neighbor says. Hook ups in this empty lot mark where another home was never built. (Photo: Rachel Dornhelm)

At a suburban development in South Merced, sidewalks and electrical hook ups are signs that houses were to be built here. At one of the first full blocks of homes, I knock and Dina Gonzalez opens the door. She runs an in-home day care, her bright personality matches the center’s primary colored walls.

But stepping outside she grows more somber. Gonzalez points at a row of neat stucco houses and says that nearly all of them have been foreclosed on.

“Just me and the person at the end is the ones that kinda saved our home,” Gonzalez says. “But back there, the other line, most of these three lines, most of the people is new. … Across the street this family lost their house, and she lost her job, too. So she couldn’t afford — not even rent an apartment. So they didn’t have no choice. They were looking, living in shelters on the street by the train.

Losing a house had an effect on voting as strong as poverty or a lack of education.

Gonzalez says she was lucky and got a loan modification. But she’s seen other home day-care providers fold, as families lost jobs and moved away. In the midst of all the upheaval, Gonzalez could see voting was the last thing on people’s minds.

“A lot of the parents and a lot of people in the community start feeling discouraged. They didn’t feel trust in the economy and the system, and it’s kinda hard to be picking up and feeling trust in the White House.” Continue reading

Riverside County Democrats Claim Fraud in Voter Outreach Project

By Lance Williams, California Watch

(David Paul Morris/Getty Images)

(David Paul Morris/Getty Images)

While Republican voter registration in California is in a long downward spiral, the GOP still holds sway in 31 of the state’s 58 counties.

Then there’s Riverside County, where Democratic activists claim that a Republican voter outreach project has employed an unusual fraud scheme to build a 51,000-voter registration advantage.

In a complaint filed last week with the county registrar of voters, the Democrats presented affidavits from 133 Democratic voters who said they had been re-registered as Republicans without their consent after they encountered petition circulators outside welfare offices and stores.

Re-registering Democrats as Republicans interferes with Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts … the party won’t contact a voter who is listed as a Republican.

One voter complained that his registration was changed to Republican after he signed what he thought was a petition to legalize marijuana. Another said he was told he was signing a petition to lower the price of gasoline, according to the affidavits.

Others said they were offered free cigarettes or a “job at the polls” if they signed some paperwork.

Continue reading

A Powerful Way to Get Out the Vote: Share with Your Facebook Friends

(Joel Saget: AFP/GettyImages)

(Joel Saget: AFP/GettyImages)

From AP: Here’s something most politicians can “like”: Facebook friends played a big role in getting hundreds of thousands of people to vote in 2010, a new scientific study claims.

Facebook researchers and scientists at the University of California, San Diego conducted a massive online experiment in the mid-term congressional election to test and measure the political power of online peer pressure.

They found that people who got Facebook messages that their friends had voted were a bit more likely to go to the polls than those who didn’t get the same reminder. And from there the effect multiplied in the social network, they reported in Thursday’s journal Nature.

The friend-prodding likely increased voter turnout by as much as 340,000 in the non-presidential election that voted in a new Republican congress, the scientists calculated. They said that it could potentially change the outcome of close elections.

“Our study is the first large-scale scientific test of the idea that online social networks affect real world political behavior,” said study lead author James Fowler, a professor of medical genetics and political science at the University of California, San Diego. Continue reading

Young Voters Sound Off in Silicon Valley

(Photo: Stephen Pottage)

Participants in the focus group were vocal about their support for education. (Photo: Stephen Pottage)

With the national conventions behind them now, Republicans and Democrats say they’re all fired up and ready to go — sprinting toward the November election.

Four years ago Barack Obama marched into the White House beside an army of young volunteers. How are voters under 30 feeling about politics now?

As President Obama was giving his acceptance speech Thursday night, a group of younger citizens in Silicon Valley discussed their feelings about the election. Those focus groups are part of KQED’s campaign season series “What’s Government For?” — a joint project with the non-partisan Public Policy Institute of California.

“But just about everybody wanted government to do more to improve schools and to make college more affordable.”

While the PPIC does public opinion polling, they also are conducting these smaller conversations to take the pulse of Californians this election year. KQED has already participated in Contra Costa, Fresno and Los Angeles. On Thursday night, 20 young adults — ages 18 to 29 — gathered to talk about their views on government and politics. The group was a mix of Republicans, Continue reading

Primary’s Lesson: Every Vote Counts

Primary Voters in California

Flickr/Old Man Lee

Two weeks after the June 5 primary, county elections officers are still hard at work counting ballots. There are still more than 300,000 absentee and provisional ballots yet to be processed around California. And lots of races hinge on those votes.

For starters: the fate of Proposition 29, the state tobacco tax hike. Support for the measure still lags, but the gap is narrowing. As of late Tuesday afternoon, the “Yes” votes were 17,571 behind the “No” votes. That’s a tiny fraction of the five million votes cast. And the margin against Prop. 29 has been shrinking steadily.  On June 12, it was 28,000, down from 63,000 votes the day after the election. And 337,977 ballots are still to be counted.

In addition, five congressional races and ten state assembly races are too close to call… with margins of less than two percent between the second and third vote-getters (only the top two will advance to the Nov. 6 general election).

In Congressional District 2, which stretches from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border, Democrat Norman Solomon trails Republican Daniel Roberts by 1,241 votes. The winner will face off against Democrat Jared Huffman in November.

In Congressional District 8, in the sparsely populated region east of the Sierras, three Republicans and one Democrat are all within about 900 votes of each other. The candidate currently in third place is just 215 votes shy of second place.

In Congressional District 21 which runs from south of Fresno down to Bakersfield, Democrat Blong Xiong trails Democrat John Hernandez by 492 votes. The winner will face Republican David Valadao.

In Congressional District 38, in Los Angeles County, Republican Jorge Robles is 632 votes behind Republican Benjamin Campos in a fight to take on Democratic incumbent Linda Sanchez.

And in Congressional District 52, in San Diego County, Democrat Lori Saldana is just 713 votes behind Democrat Scott Peters in a race to take on incumbent Republican Brian Bilbray.

In all those races, there are still thousands, if not tens of thousands, of ballots still being tallied.

The moral of the story? Your vote COUNTS!

Two thirds of California’s registered voters didn’t make it to the polls on June 5. But just a few hundred more votes in any of these close races could have swung the outcome. By voting — or staying home — you’ve had an impact on the election.