California Secretary of State Alex Padilla interviewed by KCBS near a long line of voters waiting to cast a ballot in North Hollywood Saturday. (Photo Credit: Ed Coghlan/CA Fwd)
Early voting, where it was available in California, attracted thousands—many of whom waited in lines for over an hour to cast their ballots.
One of those was California Secretary of State Alex Padilla who showed up to vote in North Hollywood just before 8 a.m. on Saturday with a couple of dozen doughnuts for the people working at the polls.
Padilla should have showed up a little earlier. By the time he arrived, hundreds of people were already in line. The first person in line told CA Fwd that she arrived at 5:30 a.m. The Secretary of State and his wife went to the back of the line and waited their turn—which came over two hours later.
“There is clearly a strong desire for more in-person early voting,” said Padilla. “I thank the counties who are offered an early voting opportunity even though it is currently not required by the state and they're working with limited resources.”
The Secretary of State’s office couldn’t estimate how many Californians voted early because no one was required to report the totals. But it was robust. In Los Angeles County for example, more than 25,000 persons voted at the five polling centers that were open.
“The response to weekend early voting was overwhelming and signals the likelihood of very robust turnout at the polls on Tuesday,” said Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan. “While this is positive in many respects, the limitations of outdated voting system and the limited number of locations also show the need to move forward with plans to expand voting options in the future and to offer a more modernized voting experience. Voters who showed up this weekend were enthusiastic and understanding. We thank them for their patience and perseverance.”
Padilla pointed out that all polling locations throughout the state will be open on Election Day offering a quicker, more convenient option to cast ballots. He also indicated that help is on the way and, by the next presidential election, we are going to see greater capacity for early voting.
“Fortunately, Governor Brown recently signed SB 450, a new law I sponsored to allow counties to adopt a new elections model where every voter is automatically sent a vote-by-mail ballot and voters will also have the option of voting in person at any vote center in their county over the course of ten days,” said Padilla.
To facilitate more early voting opportunities and make this new model work, county elections officials will need funding for new voting machines. Padilla said he would continue to seek funding for new voting systems and the resources necessary for more early voting in California.
In a recent analysis, California Forward has called for a new approach to election financing.
To improve voting systems and control costs, California will need to develop a new way to pay for elections administration and evolve the tension-filled relationship between state and county governments into a cooperative partnership.
“This is an opportune time in our state’s history to develop a new framework that fairly distributes costs, provides reliable funding and encourages continuous improvement,” said Jim Mayer, president and CEO of CA Fwd.
However, how we pay for elections is a question for tomorrow.
Today, make sure to get out and vote!