Residents weigh in on new polling machines

Voters line up around the corner of the Stevenson Ranch library building with less than an hour left to vote on election night. March 03, 2020. Bobby Block / The Signal.

Stevenson Ranch residents Shana and Jeff Thomas waited nearly two hours to vote at the Stevenson Ranch Library Tuesday night.

“Almost to the minute,” Jeff said, adding that their three young kids waited in the car, as their youngest is paralyzed.

“It was a circus to have her wait outside for two hours,” Shana added.

Though the Thomases said the new voting system was super easy, they thought if there were more machines, there wouldn’t have been such a long wait.

“They only had five polling machines in there for this community,” Shana said.

The Thomases made use of their two hours by filling out their interactive sample ballots on their phones while they waited.

“It gave us time in line to read through all the (choices) again and make our decisions,” Shana added. “Then when we got up (there), it was just (submitting), and it was great.”

Still, the Thomases said they will be sending in mail-in ballots next year.

While Canyon Country resident Leanna Schaefer typically votes by mail, this year, she decided to go to the polls with her son Jared as it was his first time voting.

“I like the new system,” Schaefer said. “The only thing is that they need more people to register (voters) in — that’s what the holdup is — because they have all these machines (that are) not being used and everybody’s out front waiting.”

Overall, it took them about an hour to vote at the Santa Clarita Sports Complex, which they said was better than the wait at Canyon Country Park, where voters were in line for two hours around 6 p.m.

“That’s why we came here,” Schaefer added.

Canyon Country resident Michael Cruz said he had a much better experience voting at the park with his wife earlier in the day.

“Only a couple of people were voting, and there was one person in line ahead of us,” he said. “The staff was really nice and explained everything to us … and the instructions were fairly easy to follow.”

Though Cruz made a mistake when submitting his answers, he said it was easy to review and correct, which is exactly what Canyon Country resident Chuck Corpus liked about the new system, as well.

“I’m not really a techy type person, (but) the process was pretty easy,” Corpus said. “If you make a mistake you can still go back (whereas) the old system you punched or made a mark (that was harder to correct).”

Corpus also went to the sports complex to vote, but did so on Monday afternoon and said there was no wait at all.

While Newhall resident Rachael Garel had heard about the new voting system, she said she was still very surprised when she saw it in action.

“I’m used to the first thing you do is stick the paper in to vote, and that’s how we’ve done it for years, but you don’t do that anymore, so I think I just had a moment of cognitive dissonance,” she said, chuckling. “I was embarrassed, but I called the guy over, and he said, ‘You push the button that says start’ … After that, it became very clean and easy.”

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