Voters using absentee ballots provided the 209-vote margin of victory for a controversial hotel that was the subject of a special election Tuesday in Del Mar.
All five precincts were against the hotel, but absentee voters favored it by 80% to 20%, leading to an overall 54%-46% victory for developer Jim Watkins' plan to build a three-story, 123-unit hotel at the northwestern corner of Camino Del Mar and 15th Street.
Turnout was 56% for the second election in five months on the hotel issue.
Hotel opponents insisted Wednesday that pro-hotel forces had encouraged the use of absentee ballots by people who are registered in Del Mar but live elsewhere. The state Election Code allows people to live in one city and vote in another if, for example, they plan to return soon to their former home.
After losing by 15 votes in the September election, the pro-hotel camp organized a vigorous effort to encourage voting by absentee, attempting to reach people who otherwise might not vote. The result was a near 50% increase in the number of absentee voters.