Early voting for the Nov. 4 general election got under way Monday at the San Diego County Registrar of Voters Office.

In a report released Monday, Vince Vasquez of the National University System Institute for Policy Research projected turnout at 15-19 percentage points higher than the June primary, which drew only 27 percent of the electorate.

He cited both the two close races, and ballot measures that could bring more moderate and progressive voters to the polls next month.

“There is a chance that an ‘October surprise’ may shake up the election — exogenous events, late-breaking news, as well as candidate-related controversies and allegations may emerge between now and Election Day —  with electoral consequences,” Vasquez said.

“This is especially true because of the thousands of new and casual voters that are expected to cast their ballots this election are not regular observers of politics and current affairs.”

The county office, at 5600 Overland Ave. in Kearny Mesa, will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays for registered voters who prefer to vote in person but cannot make it to a polling place on Election Day. The office will also be open on the weekend of Nov. 1-2.

The county has sent out around 850,000 absentee ballots, which could start showing up in mailboxes as soon as Tuesday.

“If you know how you want to vote, grab that mail ballot when you get it, vote it and send it back in right away,” said Registrar Michael Vu. “The sooner we get the ballot back, the sooner we can start processing it so it will be counted right when the polls close at 8 p.m. on Nov. 4.”

The election is expected to feature close races for a congressional seat held by Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, who is being challenged by former San Diego Councilman Carl DeMaio, and an open San Diego City Council seat.

Chris Cate, the vice president of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, and Carol Kim, an education consultant, are squaring off in the council election.

Statewide, legislative and several other congressional offices are also at stake.

According to Vasquez, Republicans once held a voter registration advantage of 11,000 in Peters’ district, but that margin has been halved because of fewer GOP voters, a bit more Democrats and an increase of 10,000 who signed up to vote as independents.

With “well-funded” party and non-partisan registration drives in the region, the GOP advantage will likely narrow by Election Day, he said. He said those new voters will impact the council race, too, because the council and congressional districts overlap.

— City News Service

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