Election Watchers Anticipate Big In-Person Turnout

Late Voters Polled Heavily in Favor of Recall

Santa Barbara residents showed up to vote at SBCC's Schott campus — one of 17 polling locations in the city for the September 14 gubernatorial recall election. | Credit: Ryan P. Cruz

A steady trickle of voters passed in and out of Santa Barbara County voting booths on Tuesday, as both Republican and Democratic party leaders counted on a strong turnout to decide the recall effort against Governor Gavin Newsom.

“We’re expecting a huge turnout today,” said Gregory Gandrud, who heads the Republican Party in Santa Barbara County. People were encouraged to vote as soon as possible, he said, using drop boxes or the mail. Gandrud mailed his ballot soon after receiving it. “We believe that’s a safe method to use, but for some reason, most Republican voters are choosing to vote in person.”

Volunteers with the Santa Barbara Democratic Party were knocking on doors downtown, and on the east and west sides of town, said Darcél Elliott, who leads the local Dems. They’re taking the strategy of giving voters no excuse not to vote in a “knock-and-drag” campaign to ask voters what they need to get to the voting booth: a ride? a sitter for the kids? “Yeah,” Elliott said, laughing. “Das has literally babysat babies for voters before.” Elliott is chief of staff for County Supervisor Das Williams as well as party chair. It’s probably because he’s Das, she mused, and they know who he is; Williams wore his newborn daughter in a chest-pack for many months’ worth of county meetings.

The push to get voters to the polls was necessary, Elliott said, getting back to the business at hand. Santa Barbara was experiencing a shift in voter habits, as Republicans switched to same-day instead of early voting. The poll conducted by the Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies and the Los Angeles Times last week may have found 60 percent of early likely voters in the “no” on recall camp, but among late voters, 67-77 percent of those who intended to vote in person planned to mark “yes” for the recall, Elliott said.

Gandrud believed the polls didn’t accurately reflect the populace. “When do you poll, who do you ask? Who’s motivated?” he asked. His impression was that the race was extremely close. “You wouldn’t have the vice president or president coming out to help Newsom if it wasn’t extremely close,” referring to Kamala Harris’s visit to California last Wednesday and Joe Biden’s on Monday.

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