Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, first-time voters hit the polls.
Valencia Residents practice social distancing while using the new tablets at the voting center.

Very soon, some residents in Santa Clarita will experience going to the polls, standing in line, voting and receiving an “I Voted” sticker for the first time, even with COVID-19 restrictions in place. 

Patty Robinson, Director of Civic Engagement and College of The Canyons Faculty member, works to spread awareness of how important it is to get out and vote. Robinson has a small group of college volunteers that goes out to the community to spread awareness about the importance of voting.

The group uses social media as a way to reach out more to first-time voters, especially younger voters who can spend a lot of time on social media. Robinson is attempting to find multiple outlets to reach out to new, younger voters in hopes she can make a difference come Nov. 3.

An “I VOTED” sticker people are given after voting at the Voting Center at College of the Canyons.

“First-time voting in Santa Clarita will be a huge challenge and getting others to get to vote is already hard enough to spread the word … and get the point across to everyone,” Robinson said.

Carmen Garcia, a first-time voter, was vocal about her feelings towards this year’s election and is excited to cast her vote. It’s the first election Garcia is old enough to vote in.

Garcia is interested in politics and is passionate about letting the younger generation know how voting makes a huge impact. 

“I want to urge people to think about the United States of America as a whole community and strive to bring out the best in our community. We have to voice our opinion, even when you don’t like others’ opinions,” Garcia said. 

The Voting Center has motivational banners throughout the center.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted some of the biggest issues in this country, voting has become even more crucial in 2020. 

According to Robinson, it is important to vote at this time because of the state of the economy. 

“We want a strong leader that will pick us up during this pandemic,” Robinson said. “Everything is falling apart with tons losing jobs, healthcare, and job security and even taxes are one of the important issues we have been focusing on a lot lately.”

The new digital voting experience for in-person voters.

In addition to COVID-19 regulations, the College of the Canyons Voting Center is also changing by going digital instead of using paper ballots to vote (this applies for in-person voting). Tablets that are functional and ready to be used have been distributed all around the College of the Canyons Voting Center for a quicker and more efficient voting process.

The voting center workers are ready to offer explanations of how it works and stand-by assistance for those who need it.

Over 60 digital machines are available and all socially distanced for safety and privacy.

The voting center will be open for early voting for 11 days starting on Oct. 24 and will remain open until Nov. 3, Election Day, at the College of the Canyons Valencia Campus.

Voters can come to a safe environment to vote in person and were not allowed to be interviewed at the voting center due to privacy rules at the center. The rules also were enforced to not have anyone wear any type of shirt, stickers, or hats that showed candidate or ballot measure. The voting center will be located inside the EPEK Gym.

The Voting center hours of operation are as follows:

  •  Oct. 24 -Nov. 2, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. 
  •  Nov. 3, (Election Day) 7 a.m.-8 p.m.
A sanitation station is set up to use before entering the main voting area or touching the iPad.

Social distancing is going to be enforced and voters must wear a facial mask while attending. Additionally, hand sanitizer and gloves will be required while operating the digital voting tablet. They also clean the stations after every use to ensure it is sanitized and clean for the next users that come in to vote.

Also, check out http://registertovote.ca.gov/ for voting information and a center near you.

From Canyons News: Jackie Cardenas, Colin Ferguson, Luis Felipe Gonzales, Sarah Hicks, Roland Sprewell.

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