Logan Carrington casts his vote at the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters in San Jose, Calif., on Oct. 7, 2020. The former Virginian says, “I want to control the narrative of my vote,” explaining why he chose to vote in person and not mail in his ballot. (Harika Maddala / Xpress Media) (Harika Maddala)
Logan Carrington casts his vote at the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters in San Jose, Calif., on Oct. 7, 2020. The former Virginian says, “I want to control the narrative of my vote,” explaining why he chose to vote in person and not mail in his ballot. (Harika Maddala / Xpress Media)

Harika Maddala

Early voting centers see an increase of in-person voters

October 12, 2020

The in-person Voting Center in front of Bill Graham Civic Auditorium and City Hall in San Francisco on Oct. 9, 2020. (Alex Drew / Golden Gate Xpress) (Alex Drew)

With Election Day less than a month away, voting centers across California are beginning to open for early voting.

The Voters Choice Act, passed in 2016, allows 15 counties in California including some in the Bay Area to mail ballots to each eligible resident, allows residents to vote in any voting center within the county, and allows residents the ability to participate in early, in-person voting.

“I think it’s extremely important to vote this year. I didn’t want to take any chances,”  said Linda Sherry, a Los Gatos resident who voted in-person on Oct. 7 despite mailing in her ballot in previous years. Sherry explained that she felt more comfortable knowing her ballot was not tampered with. 

Since opening their Registrar of Voting for in person voting on Oct. 5th, Santa Clara County welcomed more than 120 voters on the first day they were open compared to previous years where they have four to five people vote on the first day, according to Division Manager of the Public and Legislative Affairs Evelyn Mendez. Last Wednesday, Mendez reported 300 voters.

San Jose resident Logan Carrington, who also voted on Oct. 7, said he was motivated to vote in-person and explained that he was voting early to avoid any ballot tampering. 

A San Francisco resident votes at the in-person Voting Center located in front of the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco on Oct. 7, 2020. (James Wyatt / Golden Gate Xpress) (James Wyatt)

“I want to control the narrative of my vote. I want to make sure that you know, we got it in the ballot distribution space, and also that there won’t be any tampering because we know on TV, around the country, there’s been a lot of hoopla around that possibly being a possibility,” Carrington said.

On May 26, President Donald Trump tweeted “There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be less than substantially fraudulent. Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed.” 

President Trump continued to criticize Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to provide mail-in ballots to California voters because of the pandemic, saying, “This will be a rigged election.”

However, Twitter cautioned his tweet with a statement that “experts say mail-in ballots are very rarely linked to voter fraud.”

Speaking on the legitimacy of the mail-in voting, Mendez said that errors in filling out ballots are mostly to blame for their rejections.

“It’s not voter fraud; ballots are getting rejected because voters are forgetting to turn it in on time. They’re not signing it, and they’re not filling it out the way they need to,” she said.

In the event that a ballot  is rejected, the voter is reached out to in order to ensure that their ballot is recovered and properly signed.

Bianca Torres sits behind a plexiglass shield at the front desk of the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters in San Jose, Calif. on Oct. 7, 2020. The county office made changes to incorporate COVID-19 safety guidelines for in-person voting. (Harika Maddala / Xpress Media) (Harika Maddala)

Make sure they sign it, absolutely. Sign it on the back of the envelope next to the red X. So make sure they sign it and make sure they put their address,” Mendez said, encouraging those who are voting through mail to take the proper precautions to ensure that their ballot is counted when it’s first sent in. 

“If they make a mistake on their ballot just to make sure they don’t make any other identifying marks just put an X on it and then you know, Mark what they intended to mark. They can go to where’s my ballot, SOS ca.gov. And it tracks the ballot every step of the way.”

Workers at the Santa Clara Registrar of Voter separated the polling booths to be socially distant, sanitized the areas after voter use, and provided sanitizing equipment for voters due to concerns surrounding COVID-19 and in-person voting. 

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About the Contributors
Photo of Yeily Mendez
Yeily Mendez, Engagement Editor
Yeily Mendez (she/her) is a journalism student at SF State minoring in race and resistance studies and criminal justice. She is a Bay Area native and has previously worked as a staff reporter for Golden Gate Xpress and social media intern for The San Francisco Standard. Yeily is now the engagement editor for Golden Gate Xpress. In her free time, she loves to watch and talk about reality TV and anything pop culture-related.
Photo of Harika Maddala
Harika Maddala
Harika Maddala is a senior year student at San Francisco State University, pursuing a bachelor’s

in Photojournalism and a minor in International Relations. Born and raised in India, Harika

earned her BA in journalism in the country and transferred to SF State in 2019, to earn a four-

year bachelor’s degree. She has been clicking photos since age 14 and has had her photos

displayed at various galleries including at a TedX exhibition in India in 2016, at Yerba Buena

Arts Gallery in June 2019, and at Samy’s Camera in the Spring of 2019. Harika enjoys shooting

anything with a lot of action- dance, weddings, concerts, protests, and riots. She is currently

exploring multimedia and finds video and audio editing relaxing- almost like a craft of weaving

things together. She joined the Xpress newspaper team in Summer 2020 and this is her last

semester in college. She aims to work on more projects related to queer identities, race and

immigration issues, body image, and mental health in the future.

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