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Sonoma County voters go to the polls

Natasha Mills, right, fills out her ballot at the Veterans' Memorial Building in Cotati on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012.

BETH SCHLANKER/ PD
Published: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 at 2:02 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 at 2:02 p.m.

It's Election Day and voters early Tuesday lined up at the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building for the right to make their choices or turn in absentee ballots.

Today's election will determine a large number of state and local issues, as well as who will be president of the United States for the next four years.

Many voters leaving their polling place Tuesday said they enjoyed the experience of voting and preferred doing it in person rather than voting by mail.

They want the interaction with precinct workers, to fill out the ballot and then put it in the box and get their “I voted” sticker.

“I always vote in person. It has more spice to it. It doesn't feel passive,” said Eric Moes, before he got on his bike to head for work.

Several voters were waiting for the vet's building precinct to open at 7 a.m., said precinct workers, and in the early hours there appeared to be little lag time between arriving groups of voters.

A rough sampling of voters heading out of the polling place showed several votes for President Barack Obama, a few for Republican challenger Mitt Romney and one for Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

There were mixed feelings on Santa Rosa's Measure Q, which divides the city into City Council election districts and a mixture of thoughts on statewide issues.

“The presidential race,” that was tops on the worried mind of Gretchen Giles of Santa Rosa who called herself an impassioned supporter of President Obama. “It's got me on tenterhooks.”

Statewide, a few of the propositions stood out for her.

“It felt good to vote to end the death penalty,” said Giles, referring to Proposition 34. She also supported changing the three strikes law, Proposition 36.

Voter Matthew Seghezzi described himself as a small business owner and “fiscal conservative. I'm for Romney.”

He also voted against abolishing the death penalty and against Gov. Brown's Proposition 30, a temporary tax increase.

First-time voter Pete Chapdelaine, 44, said after serving in the U.S. Coast Guard and moving around for years he now was ready to vote.

“I feel good. My voice has been heard,” said Chapdelaine.

He said he cast a vote for Romney, in large part due to Obama's poor showing in the first debate between the two candidates.

“Obama had no answers,” he said.

Voter Al Liner said he's been an advocate for years for district elections in Santa Rosa and was a staunch supporter of Measure Q.

“Fountaingrove residents can't understand the needs of somebody who lives on Sebastopol Road,” Liner said.

Liner also felt Tuesday would be a “slam dunk for Obama.”

At the county's election headquarters Tuesday voters also were steadily coming through the door bringing in their absentee ballots, said Gloria Colter, assistant registrar of voters.

As of Monday at 5 p.m. such voters had turned in about 121,000 ballots, said Colter. The county sent out 187,000 ballots.

Presidential elections typically bring out the votes and county Registrar Janice Atkinson was predicting an 85 percent turnout for Sonoma County.

In the 2008 presidential election turnout was more than 90 percent. In 2004 it was 89.4 percent.

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