Local polling places and political groups are gearing up for tomorrow’s statewide special election, which is expected to yield the lowest voter turnout in California’s history.

On Nov. 8, approximately 300 polling places in Santa Barbara County will open their doors to registered voters at 7 a.m. Hillary Blackerby, vice president of the Campus Democrats, said students must vote at their assigned polling locations, which are specified on the sample ballots they should have received by mail. There are three on-campus polls, six in I.V. and one at Francisco Torres Residence Hall. All polls will close at 8 p.m. People looking for more information on the election or their polling site can visit www.sbcvote.com or call 1-800-722-8683.

Tomorrow’s ballot will contain eight statewide propositions that cover an array of issues, including school funding, prescription drug discounts and required parental notification for minors attempting to have an abortion. Santa Barbara voters will also vote on candidates for mayor – a choice between five people, including incumbent Mayor Marty Blum – as well as elect three officials to the City Council.

Vernon Schabert, chair of the Santa Barbara Democratic Central Committee, said people who show up at the wrong location or have any problems voting can request a provisional ballot. However, to assure that their vote is counted, he said, voters should try to go to their assigned location.

Cathy Hayes, executive director of the Santa Barbara County Republican Party, said there are 66,197 registered Republicans, 75,310 registered Democrats and 33, 329 undeclared voters in the county.

Schabert said officials expect a low voter turnout for this year’s election, estimating that only six to eight million of the approximately 16 million registered voters in the state will cast ballots.

Blackerby said she thinks this year’s low projection could be due to a combination of bad publicity and a lack of state congressional or national candidates. While she expects fewer students to participate, she said she thinks UCSB’s turnout will be higher than the state average.

“We had 77 percent voter turnout last year, which is huge,” Blackerby said. “We think the turnout here will be better than a lot of places.”

Blackerby said there are about three million college students in California, including public and private universities and community colleges. She said many students feel that their vote does not matter, but students have the opportunity to significantly affect the outcome of tomorrow’s election.

“It is so important for students to vote, but when the statewide election has a projected turnout of five million, three million students can make a big impact,” Blackerby said.

Hayes said the Santa Barbara County Republicans will spend Election Day going door to door and encouraging registered Republicans to vote.

“We are focusing on getting people to get out and vote for the propositions Gov. Schwarzenegger has endorsed: Proposition 74, 75, 76, and 77,” Hayes said.

Daraka Larimore-Hall, who works for the Alliance for a Better California, said the group has talked to thousands of people, telling voters not to support the governor’s propositions because they are anti-education and anti-labor. On Election Day, he said, volunteers from his group will also campaign in the area to encourage people to vote.

“I’m a campus leader with the United Auto Workers, a labor coalition that represents teaching assistants and readers at UCSB, so beating Propositions 74 and 75 are super crucial,” Larimore-Hall said.
– Nikki Moore contributed to this article