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."
ATIVA ANTHONY, 27, is a San Diego native who lives in Grossmont. A security guard at Wilson Middle School, he has three years of college behind him. When asked why he didn't vote, his answer is simple. "Wilson Academy. I work two jobs -- I also bounce in the Gaslamp. I didn't follow the election, and I'm not going to vote if I don't follow it. I am registered. The last time I voted was in the 2000 election. I don't feel guilty. It's a privilege, but it's not something I'm responsible for. I don't have enough time to follow it, so I'd rather not vote than vote for something that I don't know everything about. I don't think most citizens are obliged to vote. For me to vote in the next election...get me out of Wilson, and maybe I'll have time!" he laughs.
TIFFANY STUMBAUGH, 23, has lived in San Diego since she was 10. A kiosk worker for ProActiv, she has a B.A. in liberal studies from SDSU. Her reason for not voting is based on dislike: "I didn't want to vote for Governor Gray Davis. I'm registered as a Democrat, so that was my choice. I'm registered, and I'll be voting for his opponent in November. I voted in the last election, and I feel guilty for not voting. But I feel like you have to vote for every single thing, and I didn't want to vote for the governor, so I didn't vote. Every citizen has a duty to vote, to a certain extent. I don't think this election was fair, because they made you vote for your party. Just being able to vote against Gray Davis will get me out in November."
GAIL GOERISCH, 31, has lived in San Diego for eight years. A customer-service specialist, Goerisch graduated from high school and has some college units. "I haven't been keeping up with the election and who was running, and it didn't feel right to just go in and pick things that I wasn't sure about. I didn't want to throw the vote off. I'm concerned about anything that has to do with schools, school taxes, and my community. I voted in the Bush-Gore election. I don't feel guilty about not voting this time, because I hadn't read up on the elections or the ballots. I didn't feel comfortable making a choice without knowing. Most citizens have a duty to vote, and I will vote when I take more time to read and be more educated."
MARY MCCALL, 18, is a lifetime San Diego resident. A clerk at Cinnabon, McCall recently graduated from high school and will soon be joining the Navy. "I just didn't really get into the election. I'm not registered and I've never voted. I probably will vote at some point, but I don't feel guilty about not voting this time. The way I see it, if you don't vote, you don't have a right to complain about what happens, so I won't complain! I think it should be a duty to vote. If nobody votes, then the government has all the say over what our whole country does. I guess it would take being involved in it to get me to vote. I'm interested in a lot of school stuff."
GILBERT WHITE, 45, came to San Diego from Kansas City ten years ago. White has a high school diploma and sells shoes. "I didn't vote because I'm not registered. I've never been registered and never voted. I have no interest. None whatsoever. I don't feel guilty at all. Citizens may or may not have a duty to vote. Like me, it's their choice. I can't think of any issue that would make me go out and vote."
IRENE LEGASPI, 19, grew up in San Diego County. A high school graduate, Legaspi attends college and works at Parkway Plaza. "I didn't vote this time because I had to work that day. I'm registered, and I probably could have voted before or after work. I haven't voted before. I don't feel guilty about not voting -- I don't know why. I just don't. I think most citizens have a duty to vote because we're the main contributors to who wins and what actually is decided for our community. It wouldn't take that much to make me vote in the future. I'll probably vote in November. I'm just getting more and more familiarized with the issues and people. Before, I didn't know that much about politics and all that."
ERICA MONTOYA, 19, came to San Diego seven months ago from Monterey County. A student at SDSU, Montoya works as a sales representative for Verizon Wireless. Montoya gives her reason for not voting in a tone of absolute certitude. "There's no point in voting. It doesn't make a difference. I'm not registered, and I never have been. I don't feel guilty at all. If people think it's going to make a difference, then go for it. The last presidential election convinced me that voting made no difference. It was close, but the people actually chose the Democratic one, but they went for the Republican because of the electoral votes. I don't think anything could make me vote. It's just a personal thing. Even if it did make a difference, I wouldn't want to do it."
JENNIFER ELLERAAS, 26, is another San Diego native. A stay-at-home mom with some college, Elleraas has never voted. "I'm registered, but I've never voted. I don't feel guilty because it's just not one of those things that I pride myself on doing. I think that if you're going to sit back and complain about the way things are, then you should vote. I think I would go to the polls and vote if there was an issue that I thought was extremely important -- like abortion. I'm pro-choice."
DANA EAGLE, 45, came to San Diego from Los Angeles five years ago. Eagle has one year of college and works with developmentally disabled adults. "I didn't vote because I felt the information was too busy about each issue. I'm registered and I voted in the 2000 election. I'm a Democrat. I feel guilty about missing this election. I work nights and sleep days and I got backed up on going to vote. I was going to educate myself at the polls. I think everyone has a duty to vote because it's about us. I don't think going to vote has anything to do with public awareness; I think it has to do with the individual and what they feel strongly about."
TRUDY NEIBERT, 32, has lived in San Diego County for 11 years. A high school graduate with some college, Neibert is an assistant manager for Mobile Telesis. "I've got so much going on, and I'm here nine hours a day, six days a week, and I just didn't have the time to vote. I'm registered and voted in the last election. I feel kinda guilty, because with so much going on around the country -- everybody else votes wrong! Most citizens have a duty to vote, because if we want to keep the right to vote, then we should utilize it. I will vote when I have more time to do it."
TAMARA BELETTI, 23, came to San Diego from Texas a year and a half ago. With a B.A. in public relations, Belletti works in retail sales at the Bombay Company. "I was out of the country this election. I just got back today from Chile. I have family there. I am registered to vote, and I voted in the 2000 election for president. I don't feel guilty about missing this one, because, to tell you the truth, I didn't know there was a chance to vote. I never even heard about it. I believe most citizens have a duty to vote, because if you want something to change, how are you going to do it if you won't vote? If they make it convenient and advertise it, I'll vote the next time. I didn't even know where to vote."
HANK LUNSFORD, 19, is an El Cajon native who returned home from Idaho four months ago. A high school graduate who will start at Grossmont College in the fall, Lunsford works for Wilson's House of Suede and Leather. "I didn't know anything about anybody on the ballot, and I didn't have any knowledge about that kind of stuff. I'm registered to vote, and I voted in the last presidential election. I don't feel guilty at all about missing this one. I'd feel guilty if I did vote, not knowing about any of the people I was voting for. I think most citizens have a duty to vote. If you don't know who's representing you, then you're not getting your views across. I'll vote next time if I have more knowledge about the people running and where to go and that sort of thing. I plan to be more informed by November."
ANGEL HUNT, 23, is another San Diego native who attends Cuyamaca College. A sales representative, Hunt admits that she didn't even think to vote. "I was so busy working and everything that I had no time. I'm registered to vote, and I remember voting in the presidential election. I don't feel guilty about not voting this time, because I'm sure the right person will be elected. I wouldn't call it a duty -- I'd call it a privilege. Voting is a privilege, because you're not obliged to do it. I just gotta have the time to go."
JUSTIN GARCIA, 26, moved to El Cajon from Ocean Beach 12 years ago. A high school graduate with some classes in design and art theory, Garcia is the manager of a framing shop. Garcia is passionate about his civic duty and regrets this one lapse. "I didn't have the time to vote. I'm working here a lot, and there's a lot of stuff going on, like moving. I am very adamant about voting, and I think it's very important. I voted in the last election, and I feel bad about not doing it this time, because it's a duty. It's something you have to participate in and give your opinion. You live here and pay taxes, so you might as well have a say in it. I believe that everyone should vote. You don't necessarily have to, because some of those people might not be educated as far as what is taking place and what is happening. But everyone should have the right to do it and feel obligated to do it, without necessarily taking part in it. I just didn't have a chance this time. I had to take care of my shop. I don't get out of here until about 11:30. I didn't even think about voting absentee."
JOSHUA WHITE, 23, was born in San Diego. With one year of college behind him, White works at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in El Cajon. "I've registered to vote, but I've never voted yet. It's part laziness and the feeling that it's not really going to matter anyway. I'd rather put more effort into something that I felt I had more control over, whether or not it came out the way I wanted it to. I could go out and do it, but I don't. It's the same kind of laziness that lots of Americans have. I feel a little guilty, but there's so many things out there that people should feel guilty for before not voting. Not going out and giving money to charities, or something like that. To me, that's more worthy. At the same time, in our own individual lives, we can't truly say that we truly trust our government or our local government to the extent that we would wish to have control over what happens. I feel kinda guilty. I don't think voting is a duty -- it's a right. Actually, it's a privilege. When you're in the United States, it's a privilege; when you're in another country, it becomes a right, because they usually don't have that right. In their eyes, you don't have that right. I couldn't say that anything could make me go to vote. Maybe somebody coming up with some big, long book that I could read that could show exactly what's happening in the government."
JASON ADELMAN, 35, grew up in San Diego and moved back four months ago after living in Bakersfield for nine years. A cell-phone salesman, Adelman has a business degree. "I looked at the pamphlet, I meant to read up on all the different subjects, but I didn't. We even changed our registration down to here, intending to vote, then we just didn't make it on that day. I always vote. I feel it's my obligation to vote, and I never miss voting because of that, so I feel guilty. I will make it next time."