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Live blog: Election night in Merced

10:24 p.m.: Measure M passing

By Danielle Gaines

Bursts of excitement are heard every few minutes as results come in for Measure M. With 75 percent of precincts reporting, the school bond measure is passing at 62 percent. Superintendent Scott Scambray said he is "nervous as heck." Yes on M committee members spent the day calling Merced residents to remind them to vote.

9:45 p.m.: Sanders supporters leaving

By Scott Jason

Attendees of Jim Sanders' election night party at DeAngelo's restaurant were leaving one-by-one as it became clear that his opponent was the leader. One person in attendance said they thought the union's influence was a factor in Hub Walsh's lead. Merced City Councilwoman Michelle Gabriault-Acosta was seen at the event.

9:16 p.m.: Walsh's party

By Scott Jason

Hub Walsh supporters are holding a subdued party. Merced County Sheriff Mark Pazin and Superintendent of Schools Lee Anderson were in attendance. Walsh said he was glad to see the early lead, but acknowledged that it's still early in the process.

8:45 p.m.: Anxious for Measure M

By Danielle Gaines

Supporters of Measure M, the proposed bond measure for Merced Union High School District, gathered at Cool Hand Luke's restaurant on Olive Avenue. With music thumping in the background, Yes on M Committee chairman Adam Cox was seated at a small laptop computer, refreshing his web browser for the latest election results.

Board member Ida Johnson said the group was "very anxious."

7:27 p.m.: Local excitement over Obama

By Victor Patton

More than 60 supporters of Obama are celebrating at the Democratic election headquarters on Loughborough Drive. Many were shouting "Obama! Obama! as they enjoyed pizza and other food and watched televised results on a big screen TV.

Adam Gray, a member of the Merced County Democratic party board, said he's optimistic.

"It's been a long campaign with a lot of people pushing for change," he said.

The current foreclosure crisis and economy are a direct result of Bush's policies, he said.

Gray said he's hopeful for Obama, because he has heard that there was a record turnout of voters nationwide.

"I'm not going to say it's over, but it's certainly moving in the right direction," he said.

7:10 p.m.: Busy in Atwater

By Jonah Owen Lamb

The Atwater Community Center polling station has been a busy place all day long, says James Bethune, a poll worker there. In six years working polls, he hasn't seen this many people show up to vote.

"I ain't seen this many people come through here in a long time," he said, adding that about 70 percent of registered voters at his precinct have cast their ballots.

After all the votes have been cast, they will be taken in a sealed box to the Merced County elections office.

"We've got a lot of counting to do tonight," Bethune said.

Flint McGinty, an Obama supporter, came out of the voting booth with a smile on his face.

"He's real grass roots," he said.

6:10 p.m.: I got a 'provisional' ballot today

By Mike Tharp

I went to vote at the Christian Life Center, 650 E. Olive, five blocks from my home, just before noon.

I'd registered in early October, after a move, and filled out all the paperwork in the basement of the county building on M Street.

So I was a little puzzled and surprised when I gave my name to the lady behind the voter roster. Fingering my name on the sheet, she said I'd voted 'Absentee.' I told her I hadn't. I told her I hadn't asked to vote absentee, didn't intend to. I didn't tell her that I enjoy the physical act of poking holes or inking in circles to prove democracy is at work. I like seeing other voters do the same thing.

At leat four others wound up getting provisional ballots while I was there.

Not a big paperwork deal--we just had to fill out another form, vote, then stick our finished ballot in the form we'd filled out, kind of like a large envelope. "Your vote will count!" I was assured by a woman who'd phoned the election office while holding my driver's license and those of three other wannabe voters.

You become provisional because 1)your name wasn't on the official roster of voters at this precinct--but mine was; 2)you have moved within the county but didn't re-register--I did; 3)records indicated that you've requested an absentee ballot--I hadn't; 4)you were a first-time voter and couldn't provide proof ID--wrong on all counts.

So why was I provisional?

Was it just a mistake? Mine? The election office? The volunteers at the precinct?

Was it more than a mistake?

I'd be interested to hear how many 'provisionals' are out there in the county this voting season.

6:09 p.m.: First-time voters in Livingston

By Jonah Owen Lamb

Rita Rivera, who is in charge of livingston's Precinct 8, has been involved since 1954 as a poll volunteer. She said there was a man waiting since 6:30 a.m., and they've been busy ever since.

The wait to vote is about 10 minutes.

Michelle Benziger, 18, was waiting to cast her first ballots.

"I'm a little excited," she said with a smile, because she finally has a chance to have her say.

Not far way, another first-time voter, Juan Ortiz, 20, said he was at the polls because "there are a lot of propostiions that are going to affect us later on down the road. "

ortiz wouldn't reveal who he picked for president, but said that for the first time, voters were being offered a real choice.

5:54: Support for Sanders

By Scott Jason

Merced County Supervisor candidate Jim Sanders said he's been receiving so many calls from supporters that he has had to recharge his cell phone three times in the course of the day.

His party will be at DeAngelo's restaurant and he's schedule to arrive around 8:30 p.m.

5:50 p.m.: Another report from Livingston

By Jonah Owen Lamb

Hardeep Rai and a group of friends huddles in a circle in the dark, just across the street from the Livingston Community Center where voters cast their ballots. All day the city council candidate has been at his post across from the polling station, to make sure that election shenanigans that have happened in the past don't reoccur.

The parking lot in front of the community center is the scene of a small traffic jam, as voters look for parking places and others drive away. Inside the community Center, a long line of voters twists around the room.

5:30 p.m.: The scene at the local Democratic headquarters

By Victor Patton I stopped by the Merced County Democratic Central Committee's election headquarters at 700 Loughborough Drive this afternoon, and the place was buzzing with activity.

Dozens of callers manning phones, making calls to voters in Ohio and Merced to remind them to vote for Barack Obama. There were no empty seats to be found in the call center.

Anne Glasgow, a volunteer assistant manager, said the phone numbers were sent to Merced from Obama's Chicago campaign headquarters. Callers were also busy setting up rides to polls for voters who needed them.

Glasgow said the Loughborough Drive location is where local Democrats will be celebrating if Obama wins. Whether that will be the case, however, remains to be seen.

5:22 p.m: A steady flow in Livingston

By Jonah Owen Lamb

The low hum of conversation and the crinkle of ballots fill the city council chambers as Livingston citizens weigh their votes in three languages -- English, Punjabi, and Spanish.

Poll volunteers said they think about 20 percent of registered voters in their three precincts have cast their ballots.

"It's been coming in waves," said poll worker Barbara Edkin.

David Pinto, 36, came out of the polling station at 5:05 p.m.. He voted for Barack Obama. "I just wanted something different," he said.

Poll workers reported few problems, except for some confusion for voters wondering if they were at the right polling station. Translators were working to aid Punjabi- and- Spanish- speakers.

4:50 p.m.: Merced Sun-Star news staff will be updating Merced throughout the night with election results. While we're waiting for polls to close at 8 p.m., why not join editors and reporters in an online chat at