On Primary Election Day, it was slow going at the Lakeside Park Garden Center near Lake Merritt. In the late afternoon, a trickle of people walked into the polling place where a group of volunteers waited. It grew busier as voters started coming in after work.

Poll volunteer Zach Seal said the city’s instant run-off voting meant that the City Council primary elections were put off until November, contributing to the low turn-out on Tuesday.

“It’s pretty slow,” he admitted.

Yet, Oakland voters had a range of issues to vote on – from choosing candidates for the governor’s race this fall, to voting on propositions. The ballot included the selection of the state superintendent of public instruction, though a number of local Alameda County seats had candidates that were running unopposed.

“It’s too bad it’s a low turn-out,” Seal said, “because there’s some important state-wide initiatives on the ballot.”

The statewide initiatives included Prop. 16 – a constitutional amendment that would impose a new two-thirds voter approval requirement before local governments could start up electricity services or expand electricity service into a new territory. PG&E largely funded the $44 million campaign in favor of the measure.

Mercury Insurance Company was behind the campaign for Prop. 17, which would permit companies to reduce or increase the cost of insurance depending on whether the driver has a history of continuous insurance coverage.

Looking at a voter guide he brought with him, retired public school educator Alvin Brooks said he voted for Props. 16 and 17 and also supported Attorney General and veteran politician Jerry Brown as the Democratic candidate for governor in this November’s election.

Ramona L. Wilson also supported Jerry Brown.

“He knows California, he’s been in government 25- to 30-some years,” she said.

Wilson said she opposed Prop. 17, because it would penalize young people who drove poorly. She opposed Prop. 16 and called the two-thirds voting requirement a smokescreen.

“I don’t think it serves a real purpose,” Wilson said, before walking into the polling place. 
Attorney Kendra Fox-Davis said she was motivated to vote for Kamala D. Harris as the Democratic candidate for state attorney general.

“I think she has good solutions for violence prevention,” Fox-Davis said, “and I like the program she has in San Francisco for the rehabilitation for young people caught up in the criminal justice system. I think she has a good model for the state.”

She said she was “definitely voting no” on Prop. 16, but wasn’t sure how she would vote on the remaining propositions.

“The primaries are hard,” she said. “I don’t remember voting for one (in the past).”

As of 11:15 p.m., and with some 36 percent of state precincts reporting, Prop. 16 was losing with 49.2 percent of the vote and Prop. 17 was winning with 51.3 percent, according to Secretary of State Debra Bowen’s election webpage.

Props. 13 and 14
appeared to be winning handily on election night with some 85 percent and 58 percent of the vote respectively, while Prop. 15 was losing, with 43.9 percent of votes against it.

Under Prop. 13, construction to seismically retrofit buildings would not trigger a reassessment of property tax value; Prop. 14 would allow all voters to choose any candidate regardless of the candidate's or voter's political party preference during primary elections; and Prop. 15 would lift a state ban on public funding for political campaigns.


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