Civic duty, education issues drive Peninsula voters to polls

PALO ALTO -- Voters across the Peninsula took to the polls to cast their votes on a number of local races and propositions Tuesday.

Voters across the Peninsula took to the polls to cast their votes on a number of local races and propositions Tuesday.

Voting by mail was vastly more popular this year than filling out a paper ballot, according to workers at a polling station at Palo Alto High School. While voting opened at 7 a.m., workers said only 160 people had filled out paper ballots between then and 5  p.m.

But overall turnout for the midterm elections was at a record high across the country, state and county, according to election officials.

Steve Spivak of the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters said that a record 885,764 people are registered to vote in the county, up 80,000 from 2014. There were 805,502 registered voters in Santa Clara County ahead of the 2014 midterms and 779,330 in 2010, Spivak said. Those years had 50 percent and 67 percent voter turnouts, respectively.

As of 10 a.m. Wednesday, Spivak said the county had counted 304,303 ballots, but more still needed to be counted.

Tuesday evening, the Peninsula Press spoke to voters at the Town & Country Village shopping center across the street from Palo Alto High School, and asked what influenced them to cast a ballot.

It was primarily a sense of civic duty and obligation that drove Bay Area voters to the polls.

“I voted today because I always vote,” said Sarah Bluckley. “It’s sort of a responsibility that we take seriously, so I went ahead and did my duty today.”

“It’s my, you know, obligation and responsibility to vote, absolutely,” said David Scullion, who added he wants to “have a voice in what our country does and particularly our local governments.”

Akiko Bristol said she voted “because I feel like it is our responsibility and it’s also an opportunity to express opinions about issues about the state of our country.”

“I think it’s important that everyone exercises their right to express their opinions,” said Isa Avila.

Elizabeth Kerrigan said she wants to set an example for younger generations, “I … like to teach my son and other kids about voting,” she said.

Mae Law voted because “it was the right thing to do,” and did so by mail earlier in the week.

“It’s easier because it’s hard for me to get where the voting places are,” Law said. “So I do mine through the mail.”

Education was a driving issue for some voters. Audrey Gold said she enthusiastically voted for Shounak Dharap, a candidate for Palo Alto’s school board.

A Cupertino woman who asked not to be identified said “school issues” were a major reason she voted earlier that day. Specifically, she wanted to vote on measures concerning Fremont Union High School District, which serves schools in Cupertino, Sunnyvale, San Jose, Los Altos, Saratoga and Santa Clara.

“I live there [in Cupertino] and I really want there to be focus on education for the children,” she said.

Nan, an East Bay resident and community outreach volunteer who only gave her first name, said she voted to “better help the people in poverty.”

David Ball said he is voting against policies and rhetoric of President Donald Trump.

“I feel like it’s incredibly important now that we have a racist, incompetent, sexist president who is basically being allowed to do whatever he wants by the Republicans in Congress who are not exercising any oversight,” said Ball.

Amy Cordalis had the briefest answer for why she voted: “Because one vote counts.”

Palo Alto High School was one of dozens of polling locations throughout Santa Clara County where voters casted ballots on Nov. 6, 2018. (Connor Richards/Peninsula Press)
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