Clerk reports that county will add polling place

August 23, 2000
Santa Paula News
Santa Paula will have more polling places come the November 7th election after the City Clerk reported that the county has agreed to supply one precinct with another place for voters. The City Council heard of the plan at the Aug. 21 meeting.City Clerk Vic Salas said he and Deputy City Clerk Josie Herrera met with Assistant Register of Voters Bruce Bradley to discuss new polling places, specifically to serve the Latino dominated eastside.Bradley agreed that Precinct 305 should be split, with voters directed to either Barbara Webster or Grace Thille schools as appropriate. Elementary school district officials would have to approve the use of the latter as a polling place.Discussion also centered on the possible use of Isbell Middle School as a future polling place, Salas added.Also discussed with Bradley was bilingual ballots - available upon request - and the use of absentee ballots, Salas noted.Councilwoman Laura Flores Espinosa thanked Salas for his efforts, noting “It’s only taken two years,” since the issue of was first addressed in December 1998. “I knew then the city was in dire need,” of additional polling places, she added.But, voters have to be aware of the change to be able to utilize same, said Espinosa.“It could work against voters,” if they are not properly notified, she noted, and urged a “plan to get information out” through additional notification.Salas said Bradley had told him that the county would take care of notification.Espinosa asked the specifics of notification of a new polling place and Salas said it would be done by mail.
“That’s inadequate,” and the city should take a proactive role in notification, said Espinosa.Vice Mayor Don Johnson suggested a letter and Espinosa said newspaper advertising could also be utilized. In addition, the use of absentee ballots should be encouraged, she noted.Espinosa said that although Bradley urged voters to use absentee ballots, the level of education and sophistication could make it difficult for them to “grasp onto the absentee ballot concept. . .anything the city or county could do to enhance [voter education] would be very helpful.”Mayor Rick Cook asked if the county has yet contacted the school district and Espinosa said by law the district cannot make the decision.Salas said Bradley noted that districts are not enthusiastic about schools being used as polling places but one concern at Grace Thille, parking, would be enhanced by the use of a vacant lot owned by Elias Valdes that could be used by voters.Johnson congratulated Salas on his effort and said that after the November election more polling places should be explored. But, “My concern is the county sent a strong letter that said by law we have to have the same polling places as the March primary. . .I’m a little concerned.”Robert Borrego, President of the Latino Town Hall, said he was happy with the news of an additional polling place. “I hope there is a very successful registration drive and people come out and vote. . .”

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