Dems Make Final Push Against Arnold’s Propositions
November 7 -- Every Saturday morning for three months, Rose Acosta and Frances Pin have set up their table covered with “Vote No” bumper stickers, buttons and t-shirts at the entrance to the Pico Farmer’s Market.
Now, with less than 72 hours before voters hit the polls, the two Democratic Westside Coalition (DWC) volunteers greet shoppers in their “defeatarnold” shirts and hand them flyers, as they head toward their favorite fruit stand or the espresso kiosk across the way.
Four hours and 100 flyers later, they’re done.
“This is what democracy is all about,” said Pin, a retired social worker.
“It makes us feel good we’re here to help,” said Acosta, a legal secretary.
Taking their politics to Westside streets is part of the coalition’s strategy to defeat Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Propositions 73 to 78 on Tuesday’s special election ballot.
The coalition has pushed its campaign every day from its Santa Monica headquarters at the corner of 18th Street and Broadway in hopes that placing nightly phone calls to over 500 voters, tabling at the Promenade and campaigning door-to-door will boost the usually low-voter turnout during special elections.
Last Friday, Secretary of State Bruce McPherson predicted a 42 percent turnout on November 8, despite record spending for ads on both sides of the propositions.
McPherson based his prediction on the number of absentee ballots, past experience with special elections, an increase in registered voters in recent weeks and anticipated weather.
If accurate, the turnout would be far lower than the 2003 gubernatorial recall election, where 61 percent of voters participated, but higher than the 1993 election where only 36 percent of voters headed to the polls.
Tuesday’s election has generated little interest because it falls outside the voting cycle and has no candidates on the ballot, said Marc Saltzberg, DWC chair.
“This is an election of ideas,” he said. “There’s no candidate on either side rallying troops.”
Although there are more registered Democrats in the state and polls indicate the governor’s measures may be defeated, the gap usually tightens in low-turnout elections because Republicans are more dependable voters, experts said.
“Remember it’s votes that win elections, not polls,” said Diane Guthman, manager of the DWC headquarters.
On Tuesday, it might be harder for many voters to find their polling places because more than half of the county’s voting precincts have been consolidated.
If voters don’t check their sample ballot they may go to the wrong the site, Democratic officials said.
“Several people I spoke to were confused about where they were supposed to go,” said Assembly member Fran Pavley, after a weekend of phone banking in her district, which includes Santa Monica.
In addition to being confused about where to vote, many voters are still unclear about what they’re voting for.
Some of the DWC volunteers said voters they called were confused about prescription drug measures 78 and 79 because they found both descriptions similar.
Other volunteers said voters they talked to were still unsure about following the coalition’s advice and voting against Proposition 73, which enforces parental notification before a minor receives an abortion.
“There are a lot of people who don’t know Prop 73 is out there,” said Saltzberg.
Many shoppers at the Pico Farmer’s Market said they were informed about all the propositions and shared the opinion of one woman who shouted from the parking lot as she was leaving,
“Anything Arnold stands for, I’m voting no,” she said.
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