While a record number of Americans voted by mail this year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, some Santa Clarita Valley residents still chose to vote in person at one of the 20 vote centers open locally on Election Day.
During the March primary election, even though there were more voting centers, voters still spent hours waiting in lines across the SCV, and many said then the delays were due to the lack of polling machines at each voting location.
This time, nearly 101.2 million Americans voted early, which is almost three-quarters of the number of votes cast in the entire 2016 election, according to the U.S. Elections Project, which tracks early voting and mail-in ballots returns in states.
In Canyon Country at Sierra Vista Junior High School, there were certainly enough polling machines for the small handful of people there Tuesday morning.
“I did very little research ahead of time and was planning on doing it all while I waited in line, but there was no line,” Canyon Country resident Zach Edwards said, chuckling, “so I’ve been here for about an hour, just doing my research, and I’ve seen maybe a dozen people pass through.”
Though Edwards was surprised, noting there were only two voting centers in his local area while there usually are more, he said the lack of crowds allowed him to actually “enjoy” the voting experience for the first time.
“I didn’t feel rushed, and when I had questions about the machines, the volunteers had time to walk me through it,” he added. “It was great.”
Valencia resident Terry Collins brought all four of his young children out to vote at the George A. Caravalho Santa Clarita Sports Complex Tuesday afternoon, and said it was extremely important to him to have them come out and witness it.
“They need to see what the voting experience is like, they need to start being involved from a young age, because it’s important — we’re leaving the country in their hands,” Collins said, adding that he wants to ensure his kids aren’t passive when it comes time for them to vote.
“To be passive means that whatever happens, you’re allowing it to happen, and you’re not involved in making a change,” he added. “We are very opinionated on what has been going on for the last four years, and I want my little ones to see that they’re empowered by their vote … and they can make a change.”
Collins hopes to continue the tradition, and plans to bring his kids each election until it’s their turn. “Consistency is the key.”
While the Stevenson Ranch Library had one of the longest lines of voters during the primaries, poll workers said their longest lines were not even half that size this time around, though they saw the same number of people, if not more.
The line they spoke of was on Friday during early voting, with Tuesday’s Election Day lines at most only maybe four to five people long.
Though volunteer and Stevenson Ranch resident Riley Blaugrund was not volunteering in March, she said she’s only heard good things from voters.
“I (volunteered) this past weekend and (Tuesday), and it’s been so much fun,” she said. “Everyone’s been so nice. … I’ve had such a great time.”
The 17-year-old West Ranch High School student is yet to cast her first ballot, yet already understands the importance of doing so.
“I’ve always been interested in democracy, and I want to go into law, and this is just such an awesome opportunity to be up close and see everything that goes on,” she added. “Voting is one of the most important things we can do. It’s how we have a say in our democracy, so I think it’s really important that people come here and vote because that’s literally how decisions are made.”