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The election maps I posted Wednesday about Proposition 19 begged this question: Why did voters in the furthest stretches of East County support legalizing marijuana?
Most of the measure’s support came from beach communities and more liberal-leaning neighborhoods. More suburban and rural communities opposed the measure — except precincts covering vast swaths of unincorporated land in East County.
Compared to the county’s municipalities, the unincorporated areas in East County include the second highest ratio of registered Republican voters (Coronado’s No. 1). It mirrors the number of undecided voters (about 20 percent) and the number of registered Libertarians (less than 1 percent).
But party affiliation didn’t matter in the election nearly as much as the East County state of mind, observers familiar with area told me when I asked about the Prop 19 results.
“Really, it’s a mindset like a lot of political and social minds that you’ll find in Arizona,” said Scott Alevy, president and CEO of the East County Chamber of Commerce. “It’s less about marijuana and more about individual freedom. It’s less about actually smoking marijuana and more about having the right to.”
Life in East County, Alevy and others explained, is disconnected from government and residents like it that way. They’re self-reliant farmers or ranchers or retirees looking for barriers between them and the rest of the world. They use generators and carry guns.
“The folk are more independently minded,” said Barry Jantz, who worked for former state Assemblyman Jay LaSuer while he represented the East County. “That doesn’t mean they’re registered Libertarian, but they’re, ‘Hey, I should be able to decide what I do without government putting restrictions on me.’”
So what do you think? Why did some precincts in East County support legalizing marijuana?
Below, I’ve posted the countywide map included in Wednesday’s post. It’s worth noting that less than 20 votes were tallied in some of the most rural precincts. Borrego Springs, however, produced 581 votes in favor of Prop 19 and 560 opposed.