Thousands of People Have Already Sent in Their Mail Ballots or Voted in Person at Vote Centers

F. Castro / SFVS

Teresa and Paul Gonzales usually wait to vote until election day, but this year they decided to do it earlier to make sure their votes count. They dropped off their mail-in ballots at the Vote Center located in Los Angeles Mission College.

More than 50,000 voters headed to the polls over the Oct. 24-25 weekend, as Los Angeles County opened 118 Vote Center locations for early in-person voting in one of the most anticipated elections in recent times.

Poll workers at Los Angeles Mission College said a line extended on Saturday morning from the Campus Center — where one of those early Vote Centers is located — to the school library. By Sunday afternoon, the avalanche of early voters had turned into a steady trickle, all wanting to comply with their civic duty.

Among those voters was Glenda Pineda, who took her 13-year-old daughter Karina with her to drop off her mail-in ballot. “This was easier. You fill it out at home, and you don’t have to be guessing what to vote for when you get here,” she said. 

According to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s Office, over 1.6 million ballots have been submitted so far, some 30% of the voter turnout. And 52% of those ballots were deposited in official Vote by Mail Drop Boxes.

The Drop Boxes are everywhere, but Pineda decided to take hers to an actual polling place instead of mailing it in because she wants to make sure it’s counted.

She said she was concerned about recent incidents involving illegal ballot boxes found in Fresno, Los Angeles and Orange County, which were set up by the Republican Party and have been the target of a cease-and-desist order by the California Attorney General. The Republican Party has said the unofficial ballot boxes comply with the law.

Ballot boxes were also set on fire in Baldwin Park and in Boston recently, which have led to increased worries for voters. Pineda said she was also eager to make sure her vote counts because she said she doesn’t want a repeat of the last four years.

Coronavirus

Pineda said she’s voting for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, largely based on the response by President Trump to the coronavirus pandemic.

“He’s dragging us into this pandemic. He keeps denying what we’re going through,” Pineda said, who works at a dental office and is an essential worker.

“I know a lot of people whose relatives have gotten sick and he’s still denying it and I don’t like that,” she said.

She thinks Biden has a better idea of how to handle the pandemic and likes his positions. “I hope he turns us around in this pandemic and people don’t have to suffer anymore,” she said.

But she’s concerned that even if Biden wins the election, that victory will bring other problems.

President Trump has not committed to a peaceful transition of power, saying only that “we’ll see what happens” and attacking mail-in ballots as fraud. Pineda worries those words will fuel his supporters into confrontation.

“I know if he loses, the people who are with him are not going to be happy about it. We might go into civil war,” she said, but adds, “I’m hoping for the best for all of us.”

Teresa and Paul Gonzales share Pineda’s concerns. The couple said they usually wait to vote until Election Day, but this year they wanted to make sure to vote early, so they chose to take advantage of a vote center this time around. They said they don’t trust Ballot Drop Boxes.

They are also voting for Biden concerned over what they’ve seen in the past four years with President Trump.

“Everybody’s world has been turned upside down,” Teresa said.

“He (Trump) wants to be like Hitler and have people parade in front of him,” says Paul. Adds Teresa, “He has a delusional mind, thinking only of destruct and destroy.”

“He [Trump] only serves himself and his family,” Paul concluded.

They say they don’t like this president and also worry about what another four years with Trump will mean for their grandkids.

“The old GOP is not thinking about the future,” Paul said.

Vote Centers

The Vote Centers will continue to open every day from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.  through election day on November 3, when they will have extended hours from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Any registered voter can cast a ballot at any one of the centers, regardless of their home address.

Another 650 Vote Centers will open throughout the county on Friday, Oct. 30. For an interactive map showing the locations of all Vote Centers, visit www.lavote.net.

The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s Office says a tally of all vote-by-mail ballots, including those deposited in drop boxes, received prior to election day will be released within 30 minutes of the polls closing at 8 p.m. on Nov. 3. Another count will be released a short time later of all in-person ballots cast at Vote Centers ahead of Nov. 3. The rest of election night will be the counting of ballots cast on Election Day.

Safe In-Person Voting

All participating Vote Centers will follow state and county public health and safety guidelines:

— Voters must wear face masks and gloves.

— All surfaces will be wiped down including ballot marking devices after each voter uses them.

— There will be social distancing of at least 6 feet between voters.

— All election workers will wear protective gloves and masks.

You can reduce time checking in at the vote center by scanning your Quick Check-In Code. After entering your personal information your unique check-in-code (barcode) will appear under your registration information. Show that code to the election worker when at the vote center.

Your Quick Check-in-Code is also printed on your mailed sample ballot and vote center postcard. You may also take those to the vote center.

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