Turnout is trending down. The stakes are high, as usual. The money is flowing — more than ever.
Tuesday is Election Day in California and across the nation.
All indications point to a red wave at the federal level, as Republicans are expected to re-take the Senate in this mid-term election and increase their numbers in the House.
Pollsters predict, though, that California’s deep blue hue will remain, though there could be some exceptions in congressional races.
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Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown has hardly campaigned, and has paid more attention to passing Proposition 1, the water bond, and Proposition 2, the rainy-day fund ballot initiative, than he has to winning a second term over Republican challenger Neel Kashkari.
Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin is looking to break through the Democratic Party stronghold and win the state controller’s race. To do so, though, she’ll have to beat back a more than 15-percentage-point Democratic Party voter-registration advantage over her own Republican Party. She’ll also have to overcome her lack of funding, as the GOP turned its attention — and limited resources — to keeping Democrats from holding on to two-thirds supermajorities in the state Legislature. In the controller’s race, Democrat Betty Yee is considered the favorite.
For all the missing drama at the state level, there is still plenty to be found locally.
And nowhere is that more evident than in the Fresno County race for Superior Court judge between Lisa Gamoian and Rachel Hill. A competitive judge race is rare — even rarer is one where spending tops $850,000. Or one where the candidates take off the gloves and bloody each other more than anything Sylvester Stallone could think up in a new “Rocky” sequel. But that’s happened in this race.
On the Fresno County Board of Supervisors, two conservative stalwarts — Phil Larson and Judy Case McNairy — are retiring.
In Larson’s District 1, Fresno City Council Member Blong Xiong and Kerman dairyman Brian Pacheco have raised more than $1.2 million competing for the seat. The District 4 race hasn’t generated the same interest, mainly because Buddy Mendes came within less than a percentage point of securing the seat outright in the June primary. He faces Daniel Parra in the runoff. However the races turn out, there’ll be a two-fifths swing on the board that controls how county government is run.
In Fresno, the City Council District 1 race to replace Xiong is a nip-and-tuck affair between Cary Catalano and Esmeralda Soria.
At the state Legislature and congressional level, the central San Joaquin Valley is one of the few regions in California with competitive races.
Sanger Democrat Amanda Renteria is trying to take out incumbent Rep. David Valadao, a Hanford Republican, in the 21st Congressional District, a race that is playing a small role in the national political chess game. And in one of the most expensive races in the state, Fresno Democrat Luis Chavez is trying to do the same to state Sen. Andy Vidak, also a Hanford Republican, in the 14th state Senate District.
Ballot measures also add a certain spice to the election. Among them, Prop. 48 would allow the North Fork Mono Rancheria Indians to build a casino along Highway 99 in Madera, far from their reservation land, and on Prop. 46, voters will be able to determine if the cap on damages should be raised for medical malpractice. There’s also an important local ballot measure: Fresno County voters will decide whether they want to extend the tax that funds the Fresno Chaffee Zoo.
There’s something for everyone who goes to the polls. In the central San Joaquin Valley alone, more than 300 seats — from U.S. representative to county administration, city councils, school boards and special districts — are on ballots, plus more than a dozen tax initiatives.
Besides statewide offices and propositions, nearly every Valley voter has at least a half-dozen more votes to consider.
Tom Holyoke, a Fresno State political science professor, said it would be disappointing to a voter if they skipped the election, only to find a candidate or issue they supported had narrowly lost. In a low-turnout election like this one, he said, something like that is more apt to happen.
“The lower the turnout is, the more likely it is that every single person’s vote can be decisive,” Holyoke said. “Individual votes can matter a great deal.”
Polls open: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. today. Voters who have mail-in ballots can drop them off at any polling location. (Mail-in ballots received after 8 p.m. today won't be counted.)
Get help: For more information, voters in the central San Joaquin Valley can contact their elections officials.
By the numbers: Fresno County has 409,532 registered voters. As of noon Monday, 17.1% already had cast ballots.
COUNTY ELECTION OFFICES
Fresno: 2221 Kern St., Fresno; fblinks.com/fcvote or (559) 600-VOTE (8683)
Tulare: 5951 S. Mooney Blvd., Visalia;
fblinks.com/tcvote or (559) 624-7300
Kings: 1400 W. Lacey Blvd., Hanford;
fblinks.com/kingvote or (559) 582-3211, ext. 4401
Madera: 200 W. Fourth St., Madera;
fblinks.com/madvote or (559) 675-7720
Merced: 2222 M St., Merced;
fblinks.com/mervote or (209) 385-7541
Mariposa: 4982 10th St., Mariposa;
fblinks.com/marvote or (209) 966-2007
FRESNO COUNTY BALLOT DROP-OFF SITES
Fresno County voters with marked mail-in ballots can drop them off at 10 drive-through sites around the county today. The sites will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The drop-off locations are:
Fresno County Clerk/Registrar of Voters, 2221 Kern St., Fresno
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 5140 N. Fruit Ave. (southeast corner of Fruit and San Jose avenues), Fresno
Bethany Church, 9161 N. Maple Ave. (northwest corner of Shepherd and Maple avenues) Fresno
Clovis Veterans Memorial District, 808 Fourth St. (northwest corner of Fifth Street and Hughes Avenue), Clovis
Easton Presbyterian Church, 5895 S. Elm Ave. (north of Lincoln Avenue), Easton
Orange Cove Library, 815 Park Blvd. (Park Boulevard and Railroad Avenue), Orange Cove
Parlier Youth Center, 745 E. Tulare St. (Newmark and Manning avenues), Parlier
Kerman Community Teen Center, 15101 W. Kearney Blvd. (southwest corner of Madera Avenue & Kearney Boulevard), Kerman
Mosqueda Community Center, 4670 E. Butler Ave. (southeast corner of Maple and Butler avenues), Fresno
California Department of Forestry, 210 S. Academy Ave. (south of Highway 180), Sanger