Will the turnout of voters on the November 8 election be higher than 2008?

0
811

As I See It

By ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO

At the rate it’s going in all areas in the political arena, I think the turnout of voters during the November 8, 2016 presidential elections will be huge! It may be bigger than the 64% turnout of those eligible to vote during the 2008 presidential election.

This morning, I saw in television the heavy turnout of early voters in Georgia. The line was long and most probably, as estimated by the TV anchor, there were about 1,000 voters who were in line before the early voting precincts were opened.

This must be a trend in the early voting category. The early voting teams of Santa Clara County likewise expect a heavy turnout of voters on Saturday and Sunday (October 29 & 30; November 5 & 6). The voter enthusiasm is perhaps attributed to major turn of events, in both the Republican and the Democratic camps that caught voters’ interests.

Among the interesting events/ideas voters want to validate and involve themselves with are: the wiki leaks involving emails from Hillary Clinton, Trump building a wall in the boundary of the US and Mexico, Trump’s alleged sex scandals, Bill Clinton’s sex scandal which is being connected to Hillary’s behavior, Trump foundation and Clinton foundation, refusal of Trump to provide a copy of his income tax return, immigration policies of both candidates, Mexicans illegally immigrating to the US alleged to be rapists, and others.

As of last week, many already voted via vote-by-mail and in Santa Clara County alone, there’s already a heavy turnout of mails being received by the Registrar of Voters (ROV), according to Election Specialist Edwin Torralba. Grandpa Avelino Ocampo and his wife Julieta from San Jose, just mailed their vote-by-mail ballots the other day attesting to their eagerness to participate in the election. They want their votes to be counted and are proud to have cast their votes and expressed their voting preferences. They also attested to the fact that they have observed the youths in their area, the millennials, being charged and are urging people to go out and vote.

Even before that, the first official voters in the presidential election this year, according to Scott Bomboy in his article titled Why Election Day really starts on September 23 (and not November 8), “… won’t be camped out at the polls early on Tuesday, November 8. Instead, some will have already voted in person as soon as 46 days before Election Day”. Bomboy explained that, “On September 23, 2016, eligible voters in Minnesota will be able to vote in person at a Minneapolis polling location for the general election. On that same day, the state will accept absentee ballot requests that don’t require an excuse for absentee voting”.
By the early 1960s, most states had some form of absentee voting system that allowed eligible voters to cast votes without being at their normal designated polling place on Election Day. The Voting Rights Act of 1970 provided additional protection to absentee voters, but in these cases, voters had to provide a reason for why they couldn’t vote in person at their home polling location.

In 1978, California became the first state to pass a “no-excuses” absentee voting law. And in the 1980s, Oregon introduced a vote-by-mail system where all eligible voters received a ballot that could be returned via the mail or dropped off at a location. At the same time, Texas experimented with an early voter system where people could cast ballots before Election Day at official polling locations, and other states like Oklahoma soon followed. All these measures contribute to a huge turnout of voters considering that the government is providing people the chance to vote due to their inability to vote on Election Day.

Statistics from the 2012 general election show the growing importance of early and absentee voting. According to the Brennan Center, during the 2012 election the states of Texas (62.4 percent), Nevada (60.8 percent), North Carolina (56.3 percent), Georgia (43.8 percent) and Florida (28.2 percent) had high rates of early voting participation, compared to the national average of 14 percent.

At stake on November 8, 2016 are the offices of the president and vice president with the following major candidates aspiring for the positions: GOP nominee Donald Trump and Michael Pence, Democratic party nominee Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine, Green Party candidate Jill Stein and Aljamu Baroka, and Libertarian candidates Gary Johnson and Bill Weld.

The county-wide-early-voting being implemented by the Santa Clara ROV was successfully pilot-tested in Sunnyvale six years ago. It is now a regular service to voters in all major and minor elections in Santa Clara County. ROV recognized that people are busy during weekends, so they go to the library, which are the sites for early voting centers, on Saturdays and Sundays to vote. It is more convenient for them to do that, ROV said, so the early voting concept was implemented.

In the EVCs, ballots are printed for the voters to use in selecting their candidates. An early voting machine that prints the ballots costs about $25,000. Since the machine is that expensive, ROV limited its machine purchase to seven, six which are now being used in EVCs including the main office, and one reserve unit.

In the meantime, ROV’s volunteer election officers are being trained and retrained for them to be able to man the election precincts. The training includes theories on the election itself, hands-on in operating the voting machines, and actually manning the voting tables. Election Specialists Edwin Torralba is in charge of filling up the precincts of election clerks; Amy Sun for the Precinct Inspectors; and Roxanne Tafua-Teo for the Field Inspectors.

Election officers are volunteer workers who set-up the various precincts the night before the November 8 elections and have to report to the precincts from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. to process the voters’ ballots. I would like to applaud them because they are ROV’s custodians of the ballots in the precinct level. They are the ones who deal directly with the voters.

So, fellow registered voters, let’s go out and vote and be part of the major turnout of voters this November presidential election. Let’s exercise our inalienable right to choose the future leaders of America! (For feedbacks, comments… please email the author @ [email protected]).

NO COMMENTS