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‘It feels good to get out there’: Some La Jollans pass up mail voting and stick to in-person on Election Day

Voters prepare to cast their ballots Nov. 3 at La Jolla Elementary School.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

La Jollans exercised their civic privileges and duties on Election Day, casting their ballots in a variety of ways Nov. 3.

After standing at the corner of Torrey Pines Road and La Jolla Shores Drive to wave to passersby, La Jolla resident, San Diego City Council member and mayoral candidate Barbara Bry dropped off her ballot at the La Jolla/Riford Library. Her husband, Neil Senturia, also dropped his ballot in the box.

San Diego mayoral candidate Barbara Bry and husband Neil Senturia drop off their ballots at the La Jolla/Riford Library.
San Diego mayoral candidate Barbara Bry of La Jolla and her husband, Neil Senturia, drop off their ballots at the La Jolla/Riford Library on Election Day.
(Elisabeth Frausto)
La Jollan and San Diego mayoral candidate Barbara Bry waves to passing drivers Nov. 3.
La Jollan and San Diego mayoral candidate Barbara Bry waves to passing drivers Nov. 3 at Torrey Pines Road and La Jolla Shores Drive.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

In the meantime, Bry’s mayoral opponent, state Assemblyman Todd Gloria, cast his ballot at the San Diego County registrar of voters office in Kearny Mesa.

At La Jolla Elementary School, one of the local polling locations, residents cast their votes in person in the auditorium off Girard Avenue or turned in ballots they had completed at home.

Only three people were in line when the La Jolla Light arrived at 8:45 a.m., and there was no wait over the next hour, with people arriving every few minutes and walking in, all masked and maintaining a few feet of distance from others to adhere to coronavirus guidelines.

Poll workers said about 30 people were lined up when the doors opened at 7 a.m., though the last person in line was in the door within 15 minutes.

“This is our fourth day of in-person [voting],” said poll worker Bob Young. “So there weren’t a lot of people crowding in small polls. It’s worked perfectly.”

All active California registered voters received ballots in the mail in early October. They had the option of mailing them in or submitting them at various drop-off locations or at in-person polling places that were open the last four days of the voting process.

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One of election workers’ objectives is to “bolster people’s confidence in the election process,” Young said. “There’s so much information out there about fraudulent voting and ballots not getting counted, and we want to ensure people it’s a process they can have confidence in.”

Young said 15 poll workers were at the La Jolla Elementary location. “My job is to manage the line and to take drop-off ballots,” he said. “Easily half of people who’ve voted here have dropped off their ballot.”

Marlee Becker voted in person the traditional way. “I just enjoy the Election Day process,” Becker said. “It feels good to get out there and do it.”

Oliver Becker said that although he voted in person, he’s not opposed to mail-in voting.

“It’s been proven that people’s [mail-in] votes are getting counted,” Marlee Becker said. “I don’t have any distrust in it.”

Walking out of the poll, Lauren Kearn said: “I love the tradition of it. I like to go on voting day. That’s how I feel I’m doing my part as an American.”

Still, Kearn supports mail-in voting. “If it gets more people to vote, that’s what matters at the end of the day,” she said.

Kevin Kassner said he chose to vote in person because “it means more. You actually get up and do it. If there’s a reason you have to mail it in, by all means. But if you can get up and vote, get up and vote.”

At the polling location in the Muirlands Middle School cafeteria on Nautilus Street, election workers said only five or six people were waiting at 7 a.m., though a steady stream of voters had arrived since.

As he left the Muirlands site, Kurt Kolinski said he voted in person because he was “behind on the time. My wife did mail-in; I got too close to the deadline.”

Rebecca Johnson said she voted in person “to make sure it counts. I felt safer doing that than mailing it in.”

“I felt better coming in,” she said. “Maybe because it’s traditional. That way, it’ll be sure to be counted.”

Election returns

The chart below shows continuing updated returns for select local races. Measure E is an initiative to remove the 30-foot coastal building height limit in San Diego’s Midway District, which has been of interest to many people in coastal communities. See overall results at the websites of The San Diego Union-Tribune (sandiegouniontribune.com), San Diego County registrar of voters office (sdvote.com) and California secretary of state’s office (sos.ca.gov). After Election Day, updates are expected to post each business day after 5 p.m.