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November 07, 2019

Holtville Early Voting Sparse Yet Enthusiastic

November 8, 2018

     Turn out at the county Election Department mobile voting vehicle continued to be light as less than 10 voters showed up to cast ballots during its Oct. 31 visit to Holtville.


     The showing follows one in Imperial on Oct. 20 in which about a dozen voted and another on Oct. 22 in Calexico that saw just three cast ballots.


     County Registrar of Voters Debra Porter called the Calexico turn out “disappointing” despite months of preparation to promote it. Improving voter turnout is also among the goals of a county election committee formed in July.


     Still, those visiting the mobile unit in Holtville said they appreciated the convenience.


     "I'm going to be busy next week and we need to get it done now," said Renita Schaffner after she cast her ballot and was waiting outside for her husband, Rudy, to do the same. "It's our constitutional right to vote. You can't complain about what the government does if you don't vote."


     Schaffner noted she and her husband had previously voted absentee since they live in a rural area and are not near a polling place. At one time they voted at the Pine School but that was discontinued as a polling place.


     The mobile unit was to visit 10 locations beginning Oct. 20. It is equipped similar to a polling place but voters have to be registered. Their names were checked off from a list posted to a laptop.


     For its Holtville stop the 36-foot converted recreational vehicle was parked on Holt Avenue from 1-4 p.m.


     Nearby, several voters dropped completed ballots off at city hall, a service available in local cities. Among them was Ruth Chambers, a Holtville piano teacher who said it was important for her to make time for voting in her busy schedule. She said she never misses an election and citizens need to make voting a prerogative.


     "It's my responsibility. I'm thankful I have that privilege and can make my view known and not have someone else tell me how to think," said Chambers. "My mother voted absentee already and because she's legally blind she likes the convenience."


     Even Halloween festivities did not deter some. Ana Jacobs, a Holtville resident, was accompanied by her son, Joseph, who was wearing his flight-suit Halloween costume.


     "I've always been an absentee voter. It assures me the ballot gets in on time and gets counted," said Jacobs. "Our whole family voted already. We were just talking about it last night. I haven't missed a presidential election since I was 18. And I vote in most off-year elections. It makes me feel my opinion is taken into account."


     Porter said despite the weak response the mobile unit is a valuable tool even on election day when it was open in front of the county building at 940 W. Main St. in El Centro.


     "Theoretically speaking, the more options we give voters the higher the turnout and we want to increase turnout in Imperial County," she said.

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