Bank on a low voter turnout
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GILROY
– Voters get to decide once again who will run the state and how
their tax dollars will be used this Election Day, but only 45 to 50
percent of those with a voice are expected to say anything about it
at the polls Tuesday, the county registrar’s office said.
GILROY – Voters get to decide once again who will run the state and how their tax dollars will be used this Election Day, but only 45 to 50 percent of those with a voice are expected to say anything about it at the polls Tuesday, the county registrar’s office said.

“We look at historical data, we look at the number of requests for absentee ballots, … and we look at how high voter registration is just before Election Day,” said Elma Rosas, spokesperson for the Santa Clara County registrar’s office. “We do order more materials and supplies, just in case there is a higher voter turnout. And that would be very nice to have, frankly.”

Rosas did not have voter turnout numbers from recent elections available, but said, “Typically, we see more interest in gubernatorial races.”

For Gavilan College student Lori Head, the governor’s race has nothing to do with her showing up at a Gilroy polling site Nov. 5.

“I can’t support either candidate. I can’t support someone if I have no confidence in them,” Head said.

Head says she will vote because she believes in the democratic process, but on both the local and state levels she doesn’t have a particular issue she is feeling passionate about.

Twelve-year Gilroy resident James Paine also doesn’t have any particular issue or race that is driving him to the polls next Thursday. For Paine, it’s an under-riding principal – supporting Republican candidates – that will bring him to the ballot box.

“I’m not jumping up and down about Bill Simon, but anything over Gray Davis. I don’t like Davis at all,” Paine said.

Paine, a self-employed caregiver to brain-injured clients, said he was especially troubled by the governor’s handling of the electricity crisis.

“We went with no air conditioner. That was a killer,” Paine said.

Paine said he would support Measure I, the Gilroy Unified School District’s $69 million bond to improve aging public schools and construct a new high school. Paine said he is not a consistent supporter of bonds by any stretch, but this time it’s different.

“I have a young baby now. I want him to walk into quality schools,” Paine said.

Rafael Mercado, who works at Nob Hill supermarket in Gilroy, also supports the district’s largest-ever bond even though he is aware it will raise his property taxes over the next 25 years.

“I have sons in middle school and high school,” explained Mercado.

But Mercado is going to vote not just because of the issues, but for the process itself.

“It’s still exciting,” Mercado said.

It makes sense that it is. Mercado, a recently naturalized American citizen, will vote Nov. 5 for only his second time.

As amped as Mercado is to take part in the ultimate democratic process, it’s even easier to find Gilroyans jaded by political mudslinging and distanced by what they described as too small a voice.

“I’ve lost interest. Whatever I vote for seems to always lose,” said a middle-aged Gilroy resident who wished to remain nameless.

Not even the governor’s race is enough to bring this man to the polling booth.

Regarding Gray Davis and Bill Simon, he said, “They’re both crooks. The mudslinging is proof to me that they’re both low-lifes. By all means we need an alternative candidate and I’m not seeing one (worth voting for).”

Peter Camejo, Gary Copeland, Reinhold Gulke and Iris Adam are the other gubernatorial hopefuls.

Gene Dale, a nine-year resident of the Wheeler Manor senior living center in Gilroy, won’t vote regardless of who the alternative may be.

“I’m boycotting the election. I don’t vote ever since they messed up the Bush election,” said Dale, who also wants lawmakers to increase Social Security funding or just leave it alone.

“Two years ago we were given $20 extra each month for cost of living increases. My rent went up by $19. So I had one dollar left extra each month. Big deal,” Dale vented.

The issues

A lot more sits on the plates of voters Nov. 5 besides the race for governor and the Measure I bout. Other races for political office include Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Insurance Commissioner and U.S. congressional and state assembly contests, just to name a few.

Trustee seats for Gilroy’s two school districts, Gilroy Unified and Gavilan College, are also in play.

And then there’s the state propositions, seven of them – some costing billions of dollars – that will determine whether affordable housing and after-school programs can win additional taxpayer funding. Propositions affecting water quality and wetland protection (Prop. 50) as well as how motor vehicles sales taxes are used (Prop. 51) also grace the ballot.

For another Gilroy resident who asked to be unnamed, anything that raises taxes will get more than a once-over from him.

“The government has a way of passing bonds for things they should have been using tax dollars to pay for from the very beginning,” he said on his way in to pick up some afternoon groceries.

Nonetheless, the Gilroyan is open to supporting Measure I.

“I’m still undecided. I have to make sure they’ll use the money for what they say they’re using it for,” he said.

Polls

Polls open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Nearly 100 percent of all the necessary poll workers have signed on to work at polling sites Nov. 5. Just weeks ago the registrar’s office thought there would be a shortage of bilingual workers, said spokesperson Mike Fong. But that changed once some help from county residents, many of whom are not allowed to vote yet, came along.

“Our high school program came out in full force. We are pretty full now. We went from 100 students to about 700 now,” Fong said.

Gilroy High School does not have a coordinator of the high school volunteer program, Fong said, but four volunteers from “garlic town” have signed on to help at local polling sites.

For more information on the election or for your specific polling location, visit the registrar’s Web site at www.sccvote.org.

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