SAN JOSE -- Can you say empty?

During rush hour at one San Jose polling place, only a dozen voters cast their ballots in the first hour and a half this morning. Barely three dozen at another.

But precinct inspector Bart Connally, at his Rose Garden precinct with 1,400 registered voters, said "it's not many, but for a primary, it's not too bad."

The offer of free or discounted marijuana at some San Jose dispensaries for all customers showing their "I Voted" sticker or ballot stub didn't seem to bring a rush to the polling places by midmorning. By late morning Papadon's Collective on Lincoln Avenue in Willow Glen received just a few calls about the offer.

But Marilyn Jerkovich, 49, did walk in and purchase marijuana at a discount after showing her "I Voted" sticker.

Papadon's is one of the pot shops in San Jose hoping to encourage their customers to become more politically active as their industry remains under political fire by some members of the City Council.

"We want them to be more active in the City Council meetings and show much more pressure at the polls," said M. Leanne Gomez, the chief operating office for the collective. She will be handing out "green" t-shirts at Tuesday's council meeting.

But most voters who hadn't mailed in their ballots just came out to vote, free pot or not.


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Jose Fernandez, 71, a retired teacher, was one of them. He considers himself a progressive Democrat and wants to vote for his candidates, including union-backed Dave Cortese for mayor.

When it comes to the state senate race, however, he voted for a "third party" he had trouble naming. Why? He was making a statement against the leading candidates -- convicted shoplifter Mary Hayashi and her opponent, Bob Wieckowski, who flooded Fernandez's mailbox with what he called "negative campaigning" ads against her.

That meant Alex Padilla got Fernandez's vote. "It's not that I know what he stands for," Fernandez said, "but I just didn't like that race, the negativity."

When it comes time for the general election in November, he'll cast his ballot for that race more seriously, likely for Wieckowski, he said. The top two vote getters in the primary proceed to general election.

In San Jose, some 80 percent of voters were expected to cast their ballots by mail. Some of the most hotly contested races here include the mayoral race with five candidates vying to succeed Chuck Reed and the open assembly seat.