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Oakland Votes: Election Day 2010

on November 2, 2010

Polls have officially closed in California. Results will be available as ballots are counted. You can find Oakland North’s most up-to-the-minute coverage on our Campaign 2010 election page.

Some Oakland voters who opted to forgo the mail-in and absentee ballots had an early morning start to today’s election day, with polling places open at 7 am and running until 8:00 pm. This year’s ballot includes 10 candidates vying to be Oakland’s next mayor, the heated race for governor between Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman, the controversial legalization of marijuana-related activities of statewide Proposition 19, and local Measure BB to fund more Oakland police officers.

Conventional wisdom on the Oakland mayoral race  labels Don Perata, Jean Quan, Rebecca Kaplan and Joe Tuman the frontrunners, with the other six serving as the underdogs. Because of the new ranked choice voting system — through which voters select their top three choices — Oaklanders may not know who their new mayor is until later this week, unless a candidate receives at least 50 percent of today’s votes. An instant runoff will involve second and third choice votes being counted.

At around 8:35 am, Myles Blackwood, a “political scientist wannabe,” showed up at the College Avenue Presbyterian Church to vote against Prop 19. “I’m one of the few people I know who doesn’t think Prop 19 is a good idea,” he said. “I think the estimated value of the tax-based revenue on pot is inflated; it just makes sense that the prices will go down.”

At the Temescal public library, a larger crowd of voters showed up starting at 9:00 am — and quite a few of them were there just to drop off their vote-by-mail ballots. Those ballots have to be received by county election offices by 8:00 pm, meaning it’s too late for voters to pop it in the mail. Louisiana transplant Allision Feduccia, 29, was one of the voters who found it easier to mark her choices at home.

Around 10:30 am, a group of about 40 people gathered for the pro-Prop 19 rally in front of Oakland City Hall, with Oakland City Attorney John Russo and Oaksterdam University founder Richard Lee showing up around 10:40 am.

Hanna Liebman Dershowitz, a lawyer specializing in criminal justice and the co-chair of the legal subcommitee for the Yes on 19 campaign, addressed the crowd. “This is the right policy to protect our kids,” she said. “Marijuana couldn’t be more easily available than it is now. About one-third of high school seniors use marijuana every year. This is really something that drug policies have not affected.”

At 10:45 am, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown cast his vote at Station 6 Oakland Fire Department, joking that everyone should know who he voted for–in the gubernatorial race, at least.   Brown will be at the Fox Theater tonight with other Democratic candidates, including Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Lee. After Brown cast his vote he had an impromptu gathering with the press, saying, “My last minute message is: ‘Go vote.’ If you haven’t voted yet, you have until 8 pm.”

While the 10 mayoral candidates wait for tonight’s results, some are still doing last-minute campaigning. Quan is making it her goal to campaign at various locations in Oakland. Around 11:30 am, Quan was spotted without her usual entourage of volunteers at Oakland’s Whole Foods at Harrison Street and Bay Place, standing near the entrance to pass out campaign flyers. Then she headed to Trader Joe’s on Lakeshore Avenue, before driving to a new campaigning spot in Chinatown.

“I’m literally going to spend an hour in every district today,” Quan said as she stood outside of Trader Joe’s. “This is a really close race, so if I lose I’ll be sad that I’ll be out of politics for a while. But it was worth it.  It was the right thing to do.”

Volunteers at the Yes on 19 headquarters are spending the day reeling in voters, too. During the lunch hour, about a dozen volunteers made up the headquarter’s phone bank, asking residents to vote and reminding them they can hit the polls until late tonight.

Mayor Ronald Dellums, according to his chief of staff Marisol Lopez, is treating election day as just another day at the office.  Lopez said in an email yesterday that the mayor would be attending meetings all day, after he casts his vote, and is not scheduled to make any public appearances.

By noon, the Fox Theater marquee already read: “CA Democratic Party 2010 Victory Event with Jerry Brown.” Even though it was hours before Brown’s scheduled campaign party tonight, media vans surrounded the area.

At 3:00 pm, about 50 volunteers worked the phones at Kaplan’s headquarters at Broadway Avenue and 19th Street. With less than five hours to spare before the polls close, the volunteers — all donning purple, one of Kaplan’s main campaign colors — reminded people to vote and inform them of their nearest polling locations.

Kamika Dunlap, Kaplan’s media relations representative, said they have been spending the day making calls to supporters. “We’re offering them rides to the polls and reminding them to go out and vote,” Dunlap said. An object of pride for many of the the workers is the campaign’s large purple van, which is covered with signs reading “Rebecca Kaplan for Mayor of Oakland.”

Outside of Oaksterdam University on Broadway Avenue, protesters wearing “No on 19” T-shirts argued with a Prop 19 supporter. “You want weed to be like McDonalds?” said one of the protesters.  Oakland resident Evie McKnight, who had been downtown to vote at the public library, said she supports the work of Oaksterdam University and cultivation of marijuana but is opposed to Prop 19 because she doesn’t believe growers should be taxed. “You don’t get taxed for growing bamboo,” she said. “No tax. No regulation.”

Though many Oaklanders cast their votes successfully, some voters reported having issues submitting their completed ballots.  Sarah Hertwick, a local coffee shop employee, said that the machine at the AC Transit polling place rejected her ballot at least 30 times this morning. “I’m pretty upset about it,” Hertwick said. “I spent all this time caring about the election and for what? My ballot to get rejected?” Hertwick was still waiting to hear back from polling place representatives late this afternoon.

Ranked choice voting was implemented for the first time in this year’s Oakland mayoral race, and voters were comfortable with the change at at least one polling place. By 4:45 pm, poll workers at Bushrod Park said that approximately 250 residents that cast their vote so far and fewer than five of them had questions about the new system.  Ken Gossett, Oakland resident, said that the switch to ranked choice voting came easily. “It wasn’t confusing,” he said. “It doesn’t seem that  different.”

Several streets in downtown Oakland were closed down in the afternoon in anticipation of post-election festivities.  Much of the police attention and road closures revolved around the Fox Theater, where gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown plans to hold what his campaign is already advertising as his “victory celebration” beginning at 7 p.m.

Polls officially closed at 8:00 pm, events continued into the night as the results filtered in.

At 8:00 pm, 70 volunteers, media, and supporters gathered at Jean Quan’s campaign party.  A projector displayed updated results on the wall in anticipation of the results.

At 8:15 pm, over 100 guests gathered on the upper terrace of the Fox Theater floor for Don Perata’s campaign party, watching election news from CNN on a large, on-stage projector. No sign of big name politicians at this point.

By 8:20 pm, Alameda Registrar of Voters posted their mail-in ballot results, accounting for a little over 20 percent of registered voters.

At 8:30 pm, Tuman’s small office across from the Grand Lake Theater was packed with over 100 supporters awaiting an update from the Registrar of Voters.

8:59 pm: First round of Alameda County precincts reporting, Perata and Brown leading, Prop 19 passing and Prop 23 failing among Alameda County voters.

Laith Agha, Abby Baird, Teresa Chin, Roberto Daza, Karmah Elmusa, Kevin Fixler, Laura Hautala, Nicole Jones, Shirley Lau, Carl Nasman, Terria Smith, and Evan Wagstaff contributed to this story.

Image: Voters cast their ballots inside the Bushrod Recreation Center’s gym around 5 p.m. on Tuesday. Photo by Carl Nasman.

Oakland North will continue to update this story throughout the day with more Election Day news — stay tuned to all of our Oakland elections coverage on our Campaign 2010 page.

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