PASADENA, CA - MAY 19: People mark their ballots inside Fire Station 38 as voters go to the polls for a special election called by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and lawmakers to decide on statewide budget-balancing ballot propositions on May 19, 2009 in Pasadena, California. The governor says that a passage of the suite of measures is crucial to repairing the state budget crisis. The initiatives were put forth to voters after a drawn-out battle between politicians to solve the deficit which has resulted in painful cuts to education and services and the loss of thousands of jobs. The deficit is projected to hit $15.4 billion in the fiscal year that begins in July if voters pass the ballot measures. If not, the deficit will balloon to $21.3 billion, according to the governor?s office. Polls though indicate that Proposition 1F, which prohibits the governor, lawmakers and other state officials from getting pay raises any time the state has a budget deficit, is the only one of the six measures that appears to have enough support to pass. It is the 12th times in seven years that Californians have been faced with complex budget measures. Voter turnout is expected to be low. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
Bay Area voters are heading to the polls today to cast their ballots in a gubernatorial primary election fueled by record-breaking campaign spending that includes a host of local races and measures.
Elections officials in San Mateo, San Francisco and Santa Clara counties said they believe most voters will cast their ballots by mail.
In San Mateo County, officials are projecting turnout consistent with previous years, between 38 to 40 percent, which is slightly higher than the projected state average of 33 to 34 percent, San Mateo County elections manager David Tom said
"We're pretty confident that we'll outperform the state turnout," Tom said.
Keeping in line with trends from the past three elections, about half the ballots cast in San Mateo will be by mail, he said. In all, between 70,000 and 75,000 ballots will be returned by mail.
A mishap with the distribution of voting materials from the California Secretary of State left some Peninsula voters without the state-produced official voter information guides.
Tom said ballots are flowing in steadily and that the snafu shouldn't cause problems or leave voters uninformed. "The reality is that voters are very educated," he said. "They're very resourceful, too."
Voters can find the official guides on the Secretary of State's website, pick up a paper copy at the elections office or flip through its pages at polling precincts.
In San Francisco, the Department of Elections does not officially estimate or predict turnout, but a manager there said that 35 percent of mail-in ballots had already been returned as of 5 p.m. Monday. Approximately 177,000 ballots were issued, with 61,946 returned, campaign services manager Rachel Gosiengfiao said.
Meanwhile, in Santa Clara County, voters are mulling ballots loaded with high-profile local measures including a card room tax in San Jose and stadium construction in the city of Santa Clara.
"The ballot is packed with some really key issues," spokeswoman Elma Rosas said.
Measure J, on the Santa Clara ballot, asks residents for a decision on leasing city land for the $937 million 49ers stadium, which would utilize $114 million in public contributions.
Voters in San Jose will decide if the city can reap an additional $5 million in taxes on its two 40-table card rooms. The measure would allow the card rooms to expand and increase their tax rate by 2 percent.
So far, the Santa Clara County elections office has received about 31 percent of the mail-in ballots issued.
Overall, 35 to 45 percent of voters are expected to participate in the primary election, Rosas said. As of this morning, 22 percent had already cast their ballots by mail.