Registrar updates primary results

The local winners of the June 5 primary election are maintained their leads Wednesday when the Riverside County Registrar of Voters updated the vote count.

The closest desert race continues to be for Riverside County Board of Education, where incumbent Elizabeth Romero Toledo has 51.06 percent of the vote and challenger Carl Brown has 48.94 percent.

Toledo’s lead has now widened to 645 votes.

Countywide, there are 7,000 provisional ballots left to be processed.

The registrar will provide additional  updates on June 22.

County school board race still too close to call

The incumbent for one Riverside County Board of Education seat widened a still-narrow lead, according to the results posted today by the Riverside County Registrar.

With all precincts reporting, incumbent and Thermal resident Elizabeth Romero Toledo had a about a 1.6 percentage point lead over challenger Carl Brown.

That represents a difference of about 400 votes.

Toledo represents trustee area 6, which includes the areas of Desert Sands and Coachella Valley unified school districts.

There are about 49,200 ballots from Riverside County that still must be counted, the Riverside County Registrar of Voters reported Wednesday.

The next results will be posted Friday evening.

Eisenhower was her first presidential vote; Romney will get her next vote, with a caveat

Jan Denison was sipping a cup of Starbucks coffee – bold, just black, she said – and reading the Valley section of The Desert Sun outside the Washington Street and Varner Road Starbucks in Palm Desert.

“My kids got me a Kindle, but I have to learn to use it. I still carry around the paper.”

The Sun City Palm Desert resident and longtime Realtor – she works for Windemere Real Estate on Highway 111 in Palm Desert – votes by absentee ballot.

“Prop 29,” she said when asked about what issue she thought was most important this election go-around. “The tax on cigarettes. I was really put off by seeing who voted no on this.”

Although the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers group votes against every tax increase, she thought they should have given this proposition some extra consideration. “Why didn’t they rethink this one?” she wondered.

She also voted yes on Prop. 28. ”Term limits. I agree with that. Too many people have been feathering their nests and their nests are getting big and fat.”

As for the judges, “I just did ‘eenie meenie miney moe,’ she said. “I try to always vote for women,” she added.

Denison, a registered Republican, said the first president she voted for was Dwight Eisenhower.

She got to see the president up close when she was an assistant to the person in charge of hiring stewardesses at an airline company. She was already married, which disqualified her from stewardess duty.

“I was working at Pan Am in San Francisco and they pulled his plane up to a hangar in the back so we all got time off to go out to wave at him so he got to have a little audience.”

Denison on the 2012 presidential election: “I think Obama’s unqualified for the job. He’s never run a business. Goverment is big business.”

She said she’ll vote for Romney, although she opposes his position on a woman’s right to choose.

“It’s our body, leave us alone.”

She thinks women will band together and fight back any attempt by Romney or others to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court’s decision giving women the legal right to have abortions.

“They keep knocking at that door, but it’s mostly men,” she said.

Voter: Don’t recall Walker; Do recall words of wisdom from Kennedy, Reagan

Abe Unger bellied up to the coffee condiment bar at Starbucks at Washington Street and Varner Road in Palm Desert Tuesday afternoon, clutching a rolled up copy of the Wall Street Journal. On the front page was a photo of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, who’s facing a recall election today.

Unger and his wife Shirley  have a home at Sun City Shadow Hills in Indio, but they also spend time in Wisconsin, where their daughter resides.

“We usually leave for Wisconsin for the winter,” he said, laughing. “We do it backwards.”

He has a very strong opinion about the recall election.

“I’ve been in Wisconsin enough to know Scott Walker should stay in office. I’m a registered Democrat. But I’m an American first, a Democrat second. What he did for the deficit – he knocked it out in two years. He’s taken on the unions and has said, ‘I’m not going to back down.’”

“Politics is crazy,” said Shirley, a registered Republican who walked up to the back table  to join her husband. “Who do you trust? “I trust my instinct. The old, conservative way is best … people don’t want to have responsibility anymore.”

“Smaller government, less taxes,” Abe said, chiming in.

Abe suggests we follow the lead of a couple of our past presidents to find a successful path to the future.

“John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan – two of the best presidents this country has ever had. I used to stop my truck to listen to Reagan on the radio … he said, ‘Government isn’t the answer, it’s the problem.’”

Abe reflected on Kennedy’s famous speech urging citizens to ask themselves, ‘what can we do for our country, ‘ as opposed to asking the country to do for them.

“Our president wants to take it away from us and control it all,” he said.

Voter opines on 28, 29, Palin, McCain, and Obama

Danny Moss plopped himself down at one of the chairs across from me and started rifling thought the pages of the voter’s guide.

“I gotta vote, but I don’t know what I’m voting for,” he said. “The most important are props 28 and 29,” he said, apparently to no one in particular, but I was immediately interested.

“It doesn’t matter what hack you vote for, they’re all the same,” he said. “Whoever’s in office, I just vote ‘em out.”

Moss was wearing a faded lime green T-shirt, jean shorts, and was sporting some blue and white checkered slip-on Vans tennis shoes. He was quite a character … and very entertaining.

“OK, yes on 28,” he said, after giving the for and against arguments a quick read. “I don’t smoke so it don’t matter on 29.” He said he’ll vote yes on 29, but wonders where all of the money is going to go.

“What are they going to do with it? Use it for research or do something for immigrants?”

As for the presidential race, he said he won’t cast his vote for Obama.

“I voted for him because I didn’t like Palin,” he said. He questioned her intelligence – actually he said something a little stronger, but we’ll leave it at that – but he really liked John McCain and would have voted for him if Palin wasn’t on the ticket.

“Today, I cannot vote for him again. He says what he has to say, then listens to big business.”

“When I grew up, people did what was right. Now they do what big business wants. None of these guys has a set of balls.”

President Obama did do one thing right, he said.

“Going after the Taliban, and pulling the trigger on Osama bin Laden.”

Two “Yes” votes for Prop. 29

It’s picking up a little bit out here at the Sun City Palm Desert polling place, but it’s still pretty slow-going.

Don Boswell, clad in a bright red polo shirt with an “I Voted” sticker pressed onto the left chest of his shirt, was waiting patiently while Judy Heine finished up in the voting booth.

Foolishly, I asked if Judy was his wife – I should know better by now not to assume anything about seniors – and he smiled and said, “We’re Domestic Partners of the opposite sex, as opposed to the regular kind. We’re defrauding the government,” he said playfully.

As  to what brought them out to vote today, he said, “We wanted to vote yes on (Prop.) 29, mainly to stop smoking; making it expensive enough that people will quit.”

On the presedential election: “I think it’s going to be close. I think Obama will be re-elected. He’s having a bad patch now, but I’ll think he’ll win. And I say that as a Republican.”

Why so sure?

“Because Obama will get positive press. No offense,” he said while smiling and nudging my arm.

Voting: Some more open about choices than others

While some people are quite open about who and what they’re voting for – or against – others are more private about their choices.

Ina Gibbons walked into the polling place at Sun City Palm Desert with her vote by mail ballot in hand. She didn’t want to hand it to a precinct worker. She told him she wanted to slip it into the box herself. He obliged.

When asked what was most important to her on this ballot, she quickly responded, “The propositions,” but declined to elaborate or say which way she voted.

I had to at least ask, right?

Larry Toms came out to the polling place at Sun City Palm Desert’s main clubhouse about an hour before a community association meeting that was going to be held in a room right across the hall. He said he arrived early because he thought the lines were going to be longer. At about 9:15 a.m, Larry and I were both headed over to a glass table with four chairs sitting out in the hall area. We both stopped for a moment to allow the other one to use the table. I asked if he didn’t mind sharing, and we both pulled out our iPads and began tapping away at the keyboards.

I asked what brought him out to vote today, and he said, “I’m an American and it’s an election and I want my opinion to be counted,” on issues that were important to him. “Mainly the propositions.”

When I asked what he thought about the presidential election in November, he didn’t divulge his pick, but said, “It’s very important for this country.”

A vote for Bono Mack

Don and Bonnie Traylor arrived at the Sun City Palm Desert polling place around 9 a.m. The Traylor’s – they both volunteer at the Palm Springs Air Museum – were about to head through the entrance when I pounced. It’s always nice to see familiar faces because if they try to dodge me, I know where to find them.

“Why are you here?” I asked.

“Because it’s important to vote,” Don said. “We don’t have a dog in this fight,” “But we’re here to support certain people,” Bonnie said, finishing his sentence.

Anyone in particular?

“Can we plug someone?” Bonnie asked.

“Sure!” I said.

“Mary Bono Mack,” she said. “You know, Don was in the background in her commercial.”

That would be the commercial with the World War II-era B-17 at the Palm Springs Air Museum. Bono Mack’s father was a World War II veteran.

There’s at least one other reason the couple came out to vote today.

“If you don’t, you can’t complain,” she said.

Sun City Palm Desert resident talks props, presidency

Larry Schelhorse, a full-time resident of Sun City Palm Desert, doesn’t usually show up at the polls on Election Day.

“We normally vote absentee, but we had questions about the judges and the two propositions,” he said. “I wanted more information before making up my mind.”

Learning that those challenging the sitting judges had more leeway in making their case made a difference in how he voted.

“Knowing that helped a lot,” he said. “You have a larger filter of what you were hearing.”

On Prop. 29: “It’s a very complicated issue. Why are we being asked to decide this? This is something our legislature should do … I thought the arguments against are mainly false and misleading. Who’s coming out against this? Firefighters, teachers? It’s not about schools or those services.”

On the presidential election: “I think the Republican party has come really close to     removing any chance of winning. We’re seeing the destruction of the Republican party into splinter groups. I’m a registered Republican; I’m unitarian by preference and by persuasion, but I’m old school, not the Tea Party we have today.

Justice Department to watch Riverside County for Voting Rights Act violations

The Justice Department announced today it will monitor elections in four states — and Riverside County is among its targets.

It will be watching Tuesday to make sure elections comply with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which protects voters by language and race.

The monitoring sites are Alameda, Fresno and Riverside Counties in California; Cibola and Sandoval Counties in New Mexico; Shannon County in South Dakota; and the city of Milwaukee in Wisconsin.

It’s the second time that Riverside County has landed on the watch list to make sure voters are given proper language assistance in Spanish.

Read the story here. For more about the Voting Rights Act, go here.

To file complaints about discriminatory voting practices, including acts of harassment or intimidation, voters may call the Voting Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division at 1 (800) 253-3931.