June 3, 2014

Voters get Election Day started early around central San Joaquin Valley

Voters filled out their ballots in polling places and also dropped off ballots at drive-through sites in the Valley.

Voters were out early Tuesday around the central San Joaquin Valley -- including an aspiring voter at a central Fresno location.

At the polling station in Mount Olive Baptist Church at Thorne and Clinton avenues in central Fresno, Rob Del Pozo, 38, brought daughter Stella, 3, to watch.

"She wanted an 'I voted' sticker," Del Pozo said. "I like to get out and vote on every election day."

Several voters said they had heard about a few races, such as the Fresno County District Attorney's contest, but most said they just wanted to take part and do their civic duty.

Holly Collins, 37, said she had just come back to the United States after several years of missionary work in north Africa.

"I wanted to come out and vote," Collins said.

Polling place clerks Rebecca Horwitz and Gloria Archuleta worked with inspector Susan Riggs at Mount Olive on Tuesday. They said a few dozen voters had passed through by 8 a.m.

"It gets pretty steady around this time," said Riggs, who has been a clerk in the past and decided to work as an inspector this time. "I do this kind of work because the need is there."

June 3 will be a long day, they said. Poll workers arrive at 6 a.m., and the inspectors sometimes are still working at 9 p.m. to make sure all the ballots are turned in.

-- Mark Grossi

Drive-through voting is a big hit

"It's the Starbucks for your voting," said Niki Campos, a vote-by-mail drive-through clerk on the curb outside the Clovis Veterans Memorial District on Hughes Street.

Voter Lynne Cavanaugh said it was her first time turning a vote in by car. "I loved it," she said. Next election she will do the same, she said, or "mail it on time."

-- Barbara Anderson

Low turnout so far at northeast Fresno polling station

At the voting booth inside Northside Christian Church on Nees Avenue in northeast Fresno, there have been no lines. Only 20 people had voted by 1:30 p.m., leaving Precinct Inspector Jeanne Weaver with time to read a mystery novel. She was given 260 ballots, she said.

Ben Genco, Weaver's 20th voter, said the district attorney and governor races brought him to the polls. "I'm a conservative and I did want to vote for the governor -- I wouldn't mind getting Jerry Brown out of office, even though I know it won't happen."

-- Barbara Anderson

Never missed an election

Republican voter Nancy Clay, nearing her 76th birthday, has never missed an election. Tuesday she cast her vote at the Church of Living Water polling place at Bullard Avenue and Fresno Street.

"I'll tell you, I voted for Lisa Sondergaard Smittcamp," Clay said. "I don't know if she can do a better job, but it's time to give someone a chance at public service."

A lot of people get in office and forget they are public servants, Clay said. Gov. Jerry Brown did not get her vote, she said, "but this guy could run for governor for the rest of his life and never lose."

She voted for Neel Kashkari for governor. "He had good credentials."

-- Barbara Anderson

Doesn't like negative campaigning

Ida Jones always votes, and this election was no exception. "You can't complain about a democracy and how it works or doesn't work if you don't vote," she said after casting her ballot at San Joaquin Gardens on Fresno Street near Shaw Avenue.

Jones, 60, said the primary race for governor was another incentive for voting in this election. Overall, she supports Gov. Jerry Brown, she said. "The state of the economy is so much better than the state was in before he was governor," she said. Jones teaches business law at California State University, Fresno.

The race for Fresno County District Attorney also warranted her vote, Jones said. She did not like Elizabeth Egan 's negative advertisement against Lisa Sondergaard Smittcamp, which said that Smittcamp made a plea deal that freed a man who later allegedly killed a woman while driving drunk. "It made me want to come out and vote for the other person."

-- Barbara Anderson

At Cornelia Southern Baptist Church on Clinton and Cornelia avenues west of Highway 99 in Fresno, a couple of voters said Tuesday afternoon that they were marking ballots to ensure their voice was heard.

"You can't expect to get people into office if you don't come on out and vote for them," said Janice Ihde.

Another voter, Paula Anderson, brought her granddaughter to see the voting -- and encourage her to make voting a habit when she's old enough to do so.

"If we want change, we have to be a part of the change. If we want certain individuals at the higher levels (of government), we have to participate in the lower levels," Anderson said. "I also want to show the next generation how to participate, and that's why I brought my granddaughter with me."

--Rory Appleton

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