Voters in 15 California counties received vote-by-mail ballots automatically under the Voter’s Choice Act, but many people not in those counties — or who just wanted to cast their vote in person — came out to polling places and vote centers Tuesday.
In Yolo County, Olivia Rogers turned 18 in December and was voting in her first election. She had the option to fill out a vote-by-mail ballot, but decided to do it in person because it felt it had more impact.
“I wanted to come down here for the first time instead of voting by mail,” she said.
She was accompanied by her parents, Kim and Jose Rogers. Jose said it was a good thing he didn’t send in his ballot early, since his candidate halted his campaign on Sunday.
“Who I wanted to vote for dropped out recently in the last few days which changed how I have to vote,” he said.
Mom and dad proud parents of daughter first time voting. pic.twitter.com/ksfKzeCLq1— Bob Moffitt (@BobMoffitt) March 3, 2020
In the building that houses the Yolo County registrar’s office, voting was taking place on the bottom two floors. A sign on the second floor read, “Registered to vote? Go downstairs. Not registered to vote? Proceed straight ahead.”
Alexandra Henry proceeded straight ahead.
“It was quite fast and painless,” she said after she had registered and cast her ballot. “My family is from the Bay Area and I grew up there and I’ve always voted there. But we recently moved so my mail-in ballot was not applicable anymore I guess.”
There were concerns over the past few months that changes to California voting laws designed to make it easier for people to register or change their information on election day could cause delays at polling places.
Yolo County put out the call early in the morning for more volunteers after several called in sick.
“As the day goes forward, you never know what’s going to happen,” said Jesse Salinas, the registrar of voters in addition to being the assessor and clerk-recorder in Yolo County.
Voting at the same time was Judy West, a Republican who said she liked going to the polls to vote. When asked if she thought members of her party would stay home because no Republican challenger of note to President Trump was on the ballot, she said the opposite was likely.
“I think Republicans are going to really get out and vote because what is going against us," she said. "If we don’t vote, it’s going to be a problem.”
All told there were 96 polling places county-wide. In Yolo County 42 precincts do not have polling places and are exclusively vote-by-mail.
Salinas says the county tried two “satellite” voting locations this election. Satellites serve the same purpose as vote-centers in that they are staffed with county employees and volunteers, but they aren’t open for 14 days before the election and no public feedback is required before the county sets their location.
He described the “satellite” centers as a pilot, and that the effort to establish vote centers is somewhat prohibitive. “There’s a reason 43 counties haven’t signed up,” he said.
In Dixon, Loren Ferrero had to do a little extra to cast his Solano County ballot. The drop-off box inside City Hall was very colorful, but it also made it difficult to identify where the ballot was supposed to go.
“Lift it?” he asked, fumbling with a part of the box that held the most promise. “Is it supposed to push?”
After several seconds, he was finally able to lift a flap and push the ballot in the box. “Need fingernails,” he laughed after.
According to Solano County’s election site, there were 92 polling places, 11 places to simply drop off a ballot, and three curbside dropoff locations.
At the Dixon Seniors Center, Ed and Deborah Spurr shared the same sentiment.
“I believe in coming down to the polling place and voting,” Ed said. “I want to be there in person,” Deborah added. “I want to put my two cents worth in person.”
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