Nervous" and "anxious" were some of the words Orange County voters used Tuesday morning after casting their ballots.
The economy, California’s death penalty and taxes were issues that drove many to the polls, they said. Much like the nation, a random sampling of local voters showed a divided electorate. Throughout Orange County, voter turnout has been lower than it was in 2008.
On Election Day at the First United Methodist Church in Seal Beach, voters said th economy partisan stalemates and the fate of alleged Salon Meritage shooter Scott Dekraai were among their reasons for visiting the polls.
Dale Allyn, a Republican, said he disagreed with the president on his financial policies. He said he felt Romney would do more to improve America's economic situation.
“We need something to get the economy going,” Allyn said.
Seal Beach voter Dillon Everett agreed that the economy was key, but he thinks Obama is the nation’s hope for a recovery.
Everett said neighbors in his Seal Beach community are also particularly interested in Proposition 34, which would eliminate the death penalty if it passes. “I think for this town, probably one of the biggest props … was the death penalty proposition because of the shooting we had here,” Everett said.
Scott Dekraai, the man charged with the mass shooting at Salon Meritage in Seal Beach, faces the death penalty if convicted of all charges.
Seal Beach resident Phil Como, a 19-year resident, also voted for Obama. He said he usually votes Republican even though he’s a Democrat, but this year he voted in favor of Obama and other Democrats.
“I really resented the way the Republicans made it so difficult (for legislation to pass) when they were in charge of the House (of Representatives),” Como said.
Lake Forest resident and accountant Wesley Hatem, 33, said he spent the campaign season gleaning information about President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney from a variety of sources.
"I like to watch every single possible thing I can get my hands on," he said.
Hatem—a registered Republican—said he was not fond of either presidential candidate. He said he ended up casting a vote for Obama because, Hatem said, the president was more straightforward about his positions than his Republican opponent.
"You have to be transparent," Hattem said. "Romney presented ridiculous responses to legitimate questions. He should've focused more on substance."
Lake Forest resident Michele Hanno said voting left her feeling "great, but still a little nervous." The Romney supporter said she felt the Republican candidate would stand up for "family values" and "morals."
"I need a change from the last four years," Hanno added.
Hanno brought along her 3-year-old son Jamie to the polls. The toddler wore a T-shirt listing the names of all the presidents through 2001, and was the proud recipient of Hanno's "I Voted" sticker.
At the Unitarian Universalist Church in North Laguna Beach, precinct inspector Curt Alderson tells Patch that there was a line outside the front door going back to the sidewalk from the time polls opened at 7 a.m. until around noon.
"There's been a bit more of a turnout than there was back in 2008," Alderson said. "I think the media really pushed this election."
However, voter turnout today around Orange County, was running about half the rate it was in 2008 earlier this afternoon, Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley said.
As of 1 p.m., the turnout was 15.63 percent, which lags behind the 27 percent turnout in the 2008 presidential election, Kelley said.
But just before 5 p.m., Kelley said turnout had gone up to more than 20 percent, shy of the 35 percent turnout rate in 2008 at this time.
About 60 percent of voters sent a vote-by-mail ballot had turned them in, Kelley said.
Vote by mail participation was higher than four years ago, Kelley said.
``Today, we had 22,000 returned,'' Kelley said.
Four years ago, about 550,000 absentee ballots were requested, but this time Kelley's office responded to 794,000 requests for vote-by-mail ballots.