Ballots were mailed to registered voters across Sacramento County in early October, but voters now have the option of traditionally voting in person instead of mailing back their ballots. Vote centers opened in Elk Grove on Oct. 24 and will remain available until 8 p.m. on Election Night.
During the Citizen’s visit to two of the city’s vote centers on Oct. 27, voters shared their views on the in-person option.
Prior to voting at California Northstate University (CNU)’s Event Center, Elk Grove resident Elizabeth Wanner explained why she prefers voting in person.
“I think with such voter suppression that’s been going on and all of the, frankly, litigiousness of the president, that I think that everything is going to be called to question,” she said. “Voting in person and with a paper ballot that is indisputable makes sure my vote gets counted.”
Nicole Gira, one of the vote center inspectors at the CNU Event Center, told the Citizen that people have visited that site “off and on” since its opening as a place for voting.
“We’re expecting it to be busier closer to the actual, official election day (of Nov. 3),” she said. “But everyone coming in is following our COVID(-19) procedures of you need to be masked up, stay 6 feet apart.”
Gira added that once at a vote center, voters select what type of ballot they would like to use – whether that be a traditional paper ballot or a touch-screen ballot.
At the CNU site, there are six touch-screen booths and about 30 paper ballot booths.
Gira noted that this center’s best turnout so far has been the opening day of Oct. 24.
“(On that day), we had about 35 (voters),” she said. “Every day, it’s been at least mid-20s. A lot of our rush is usually in the morning though.”
Gira added that people have spoken positively about their experiences at this vote center.
“They have mentioned on their way out, like, ‘I like coming down here to vote,’” she said.
“We even get a lot of drop-offs outside, because it’s on their way from work, to home or it’s just a convenient location. So, it’s just a variety for us.”
Kat Chappell, another Elk Grove voter, said that she wanted to make sure her votes were counted.
“There’s just been too much stigma with the mail right now, so I would much rather put it right where it needs to be,” she said. “I wanted to give it right straight to the people that are going to count the vote. There’s just been too much problems with the ballots needing to be where they need to be, so I just cut the middleman out.”
John and Lorrie Therault, of Elk Grove, said that they are also skeptical of mail-in ballots.
“I worry about the mailman, if he grabs them in his truck and he goes through them,” Lorrie said. “We were trying to find on here, whether you can tell if you’re a Democrat or a Republican. I don’t know.”
“The more people that touch anything, the more chances there are for error,” John added.
Veronica Walker, a five-year resident of Elk Grove, explained what she likes about voting at a vote center.
“I think it’s easier to go to an actual location to fill (a ballot) out, because a lot of people might not be getting their (ballots) in the mail,” she said. “I haven’t gotten mine in the mail. It’s easier just to go in and fill out what you need to fill out.”
While heading into vote at the vote center at the District56 community center, Wes Battagliese said that he wanted to vote at a vote center to “ease the congestion of vote by mail.”
“We know there’s going to be a lot of people trying to vote by mail and need to vote by mail, so since we’re in our 30s, it’s nice to be able to come out and vote early and try to make sure the people who need to vote by mail can vote by mail,” he said.
Battagliese, who voted with his girlfriend, Laura Riley, added that they have full confidence in the vote by mail process.
“Since we were available to vote in person, we chose to do that,” he said.
Elk Grove resident Doug Humphrey is among the voters who prefer mail-in ballots.
“For me, it’s convenient, because I’m so busy doing other things,” he said. “I used to come to ballot places for years until California changed that. Now, I just find voting by mail is just quick, easy and done.”