The March 5 primary election had one of the lowest voter turnouts in San Diego history. A sampling of nonvoters seems to indicate that while many intended to vote, some simply didn't know or didn't care about the election.
MARY NELSON, 71, has lived in San Diego County for 40 years. A high school graduate with some college, she didn't vote in this election, although she normally does. "We're registered Democrats, but we've been voting for Republicans. We would have had to vote on a Democratic ballot, and there was nobody on there we wanted to vote for. I tried to register Republican the last time, but they didn't have the right papers. We're planning to switch. We voted in the November 2000 election. I don't really feel guilty about not voting this time, because I always have. I think it's a citizen's duty to vote, because you really can't complain about anything if you don't vote. You can't say what's wrong. I'll be there next time. We always are."
NICOLE HALLIDAY, 19, has lived in San Diego County for most of her life. The assistant manager at Piercing Pagoda in Parkway Plaza, Nicole is currently in college, but she says that her work schedule kept her away from the polls. "I had to put in a lot of hours that day. I am registered to vote, and I voted in the 2000 election. I feel a little guilty about not voting, because on the issues that are, like, 50-50, my vote could have counted. I think it's a duty to vote. Most citizens complain about the way the country is run, so if they don't vote to change it, they have no say. To get me to vote the next time, I just need some time off."
BOBBY T, 47, has lived in San Diego County for 28 years. A letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service, he dropped out of college after a year and a half. "Voting was a bit of a hassle this year. I didn't think it was that important, and I wasn't entirely satisfied with all the candidates. I'm registered -- usually I go Democratic. The last time I voted was in the 2000 presidential election. I don't feel guilty about not voting, because who I thought was going to be there before the election is there now after the election. I don't think I would have made much difference. Most citizens have the duty to vote, because it's important to change laws. It'll take a bigger, better third-majority party to make me go to the polls again."
LAURIE SAMBRANO, 36, has lived her entire life in San Diego County. A high school graduate with some additional units from an electronics trade school, Sambrano works at Krispy Kreme donuts. "I started working nights, and I really got so wrapped up in working and being exhausted that I really didn't pay attention to it, and I really don't know a lot about politics anyway. I am a registered Republican, and I did vote in the 2000 election. I don't feel guilty about missing this time because I didn't know enough about it, but I feel guilty if somebody asks me, because I feel like it's my duty to do it. I'm a Catholic, and it's my duty and a right as an American to vote, and I didn't fulfill it this time. I think every citizen has a duty to vote. It'll just take some more sleep to get me to the polls next time."
MIGUEL SOTO, 19, grew up in San Diego. A graduate of Mountain Empire High School, he works on a ranch in Potrero. "I'm registered to vote, but I didn't vote because I'm not much into politics. I don't feel guilty because I don't really know about politics, and I'm not going to vote about something I don't really know about. If people know what's going on in this world with the politicians, then they should vote. To get me to vote, I'd have to get myself more into politics. I will end up getting into more of that stuff, and I will vote. I voted for Al Gore in 2000."
JOSH SIERRA, 18, is a native San Diegan who was eligible to vote but never registered. A sales representative for Verizon Wireless, he attends Grossmont and will transfer to the University of Arizona this fall. "I put it off, and then I had to go into the hospital on the deadline day for registration. I had surgery on my shoulder because my muscles were all messed up. I don't really feel guilty, because it was a primary. I plan to vote in November. I will register, probably as an independent. Most citizens definitely have a duty to vote. I would have registered if I hadn't gone to the hospital."
JARRON BAILEY, 22, has lived all of his life in San Diego. A high school graduate, he currently manages a telephone kiosk at Parkway Plaza. "I didn't vote because I didn't know we were supposed to. Do you only have to register once? I've never voted. I don't want to be held responsible. If somebody wins by one vote, I don't want it to be my fault! I do feel guilty about not voting, because I see laws get passed that I don't agree with, and I think that maybe if I'd gone out and did it, that I could have made a difference. I know the beach-alcohol ban didn't pass, and I didn't want it to. I think people who care have the duty to vote. I shouldn't say that, because I actually care -- I think people should. They try to get young people to vote all the time. They put it on MTV, and they put it on everything. I would vote next time, if they made me more aware of what we were voting for and what exactly is so important in the community. More advertising."
ANDREW MARTIN works at the same kiosk with Bailey. Martin, 22, came to San Diego from Los Angeles 18 years ago. "Actually, I'm a glass sculptor. I graduated from high school at West Hills, Santee. I didn't vote primarily because of awareness, and there was nothing I was interested in voting for. I am registered, and I voted in the last presidential election. I don't feel guilty about not voting, because I really had no interest. I think people should vote because it's their city, and to make decisions in their city they should provide their voice and opinion. It would take more awareness and education to get me to vote next time."