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2012 Voters Have A Lot on the Ballot

Though the County Clerk predicts a lower turnout than 2008, the projected number of voters is still above average.

Voters in Contra Costa County will face a long and sometimes complex ballot when they step in the booth to vote tomorrow -- local city council races and measures, state propositions, state senator and assembly races, and congressional contests are featured on the ballot.

Oh yes, President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney are on the ballot, too.

Patch will provide complete coverage of the voting as it unfolds on Election Day. We'll also have up-to-the-minute election results beginning at 8 p.m. tomorrow.

Contra Costa County Clerk Steve Weir is predicting a turnout of 82 percent in Election 2012. That's slightly less than the 86 percent of eligible voters who cast ballots in November 2008 but more than the 66 percent who voted in November 2010.

In 2008, 56 percent of eligible Contra Costa voters turned in mail-in ballots. In 2010, 51 percent of eligible voters used the mail-in option. Weir said it appears the percentage may be a little lower this year.

In 2008, 67 percent of Contra Costans who voted marked the ballot for President Obama while 30 percent voted for Republican John McCain.

There are 576 precincts in Contra Costa County. Of those, 239 are mail-in only because they have fewer than 250 voters each. That means there are 337 precincts with polling places.

However they vote, Contra Costans will face a variety of ballot items, depending on where they live.

Across the county, there are four congressional races that are at least partly in Contra Costa.

The largest one pits veteran Congressman George Miller against Republican challenger Virginia Fuller. This district takes up much of the central portion of the county as well as some of the western portion. In 2010, Miller received 73 percent of the vote.

San Ramon is also part of the 15th congressional district, in which Dublin City Councilman Eric Swalwell is trying to unseat fellow Democrat Pete Stark, who has been in the House of Representatives since 1972. Most of that district is in Alameda County.

There are also three state Senate races in different parts of the county. The highest profile is the one in which incumbent Democrat Mark DeSaulnier is being challenged by Republican Mark Meuser. In 2008, DeSaulnier got 66 percent of the vote in Contra Costa.

Four state Assembly races are on ballots in different regions of the county. The highest profile is the one where two-term Democrat incumbent Joan Buchanan is facing off against Republican challenger Al Phillips. In 2010, Buchanan received 51 percent of the vote in Contra Costa.

There are also 15 school districts with board elections. Among them are the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, the San Ramon Valley Unified School District and all three districts in the Lamorinda area.

There are 17 cities with council and/or mayor races. Among them are Danville, Martinez and, again, all three towns in the Lamorinda area.

Two fire districts also have board elections. They are the Rodeo-Hercules fire district and the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District.

More than two dozen special districts from BART to EBMUD to the Dublin/San Ramon Services District are also on various ballots.

In addition, there are five parcel taxes scattered around the county. The highest profile is probably the proposal to provide extra revenue for the Contra Costa Fire Protection District.

Rounding out the ballots are four bond measures and six citywide measures.

One thing that will not be on the ballot on Tuesday are county supervisor races. All three of the races that were up for grabs this year were decided during the primaries.

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