Tuesday night, California voted to recall Gov. Gray Davis in the 11th month of his second term. The recall passed with 54 percent of votes.
Actor-turned-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger walked away from the statewide election with 47.6 percent of the vote, while Cruz Bustamante, Tom McClintock and Peter Camejo followed with 32.7 percent, 13.2 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively.
Santa Barbara County’s results mirrored the state’s, with Schwarzenegger bringing in 46.6 percent, Bustamante, 31.1 percent, McClintock, 16 percent, and Camejo, 2.8 percent votes.
It was a quiet night at “Elections Central,” a media desk set up at the Hall of Records in the Santa Barbara County Court House. Ordinarily a hotbed of media and political activity, Elections Central was more like a ghost town on the eve of the recall election.
Laura Kurilla, Information Systems Division Manager for the County Clerk, explained that the statewide election did not draw as much local media attention as a local election would, but said she was still surprised at the poor turnout.
“I think it’s partly because there are no local candidates,” said Kurilla, “and because there are no burning local issues.”
Santa Barbara County and seven other counties across the state are using new technology that allows anyone with internet access to see the latest election results as soon as they become available. Santa Barbara’s results became available on www.sbcvote.com at 8:01 p.m. Tuesday, and were updated about every 15 minutes until 9:44 p.m.
Bob Smith, county Elections Division Manager, said it seemed to be a high voter turnout, even with absentee votes not yet counted. Smith said this election had brought with it a record number of absentee voters, a number that should continue to increase in the future.
At UCSB, a group of about 50 students from diverse on-campus student organizations, including the College Democrats and the AS Women’s Commission, went door to door in Isla Vista and in residence halls on election day to remind students to vote.
Laura Gregory, a member of the UCSB College Democrats, said most students were responsive to the reminders and some had questions about the recall election.
“We had some questions about why we should recall [Gov. Davis],” she said.
Some of the 50 students who went out to remind registered voters to vote were part of the “No on Prop. 54” campaign group. The group was composed of several on-campus ethnic student groups, such as the Black Student Union, El Congreso and Kapatirang Pilipino.
“Overall, we saw students come together, crossing color lines, ethnic boundaries and even political ties to create a unified voice against 54, within our own school and county,” said Jewel Love, A.S. external vice president of state-wide affairs and member of the “No on Prop. 54” group. “It was a very powerful campaign.”
Locally, Isla Vistans came out and cast their votes at, among other locations, Korean United Methodist Church. Of the voters interviewed at the exit between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., all said they had voted against the recall of Gov. Gray Davis.
“I voted against the recall because it’s not part of the democratic system. We go to war and impose democracy on others, we kill millions and spend millions of dollars, but in our own country we try to recall Davis,” said Greg Weisstein, a senior business economics major. “I voted for Bustamante because I don’t want Arnold. He’s a joke; I don’t know his issues, except that he uses women.
Carlyn Epstein, a senior sociology major, voted against the recall and did not vote for another candidate.
“I think there’s too much of a problem already, and reorganizing the government would only make it worse,” Epstein said.
Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante was a favorite of voters interviewed. Molly Okunef, a sophomore global studies major, said she voted for Bustamante despite her belief that the whole idea of the recall election seemed out of place.
“The recall is pretty ridiculous. It’s out of hand at this point. If it has to be anyone, Bustamante is the natural choice because he is next in line,” Okunef said. “It’s scary that Arnold might win.”
Peter Camejo of the Green Party was another pick among I.V. voters. UCSB alumna Stephanie Molen voted against the recall because she did not think Davis’ actions were worthy of recall, but took the opportunity to vote for a member of the Green Party.
“I voted for Peter Camejo because I heard him speak and I liked what he said in the debates,” Molen said.
Nathan Taneja, a senior pharmacology major, also said he voted for Camejo after hearing him speak. He also voted against the recall.
“I think the recall is bad democracy. If Davis is recalled, it paves the way for people who lose elections in the future to try and recall those, like if they think they can use enough propaganda, then maybe they can swing other elections,” Taneja said.
Schwarzenegger did have some supporters, however, and many said they had given serious consideration when placing their vote.
“My family owns a business and Schwarzenegger supports business,” said Tom Langermann, a junior physics major.
Reactions from on-campus political groups were divided along partisan lines. Members of the UCSB College Republicans said they were pleased with the results of the election.
“It’s good to see that an administration that has been out of touch with the moderate politics of Californians has been recalled for leaning leftward and leaving behind the people of California,” Patrick Dickie, a member of the UCSB College Republicans said.
James Young, a member of the College Republicans, said he is proud to call Schwarzenegger his governor.
“I think he’s gonna do a bang-up job,” Young said. “He’s a Republican, but he’s also very independent; he won’t cater to private interest groups.”
For UCSB College Democrats, the results did not bring as much joy. Marissa Brown, UCSB College Democrats president, was at a loss for words.
“Oh man. I don’t even know what to say,” she said. “I think it’s pretty depressing, but we’ll see what happens.”
– Caitlin Adams and Mollie Hailey also contributed to this story