SANTA CRUZ COUNTY—More than 116,000 of roughly 170,000 registered Santa Cruz County voters had already turned in their ballots by Tuesday afternoon, an “unprecedented” turnout for the coastal community according to County Clerk Gail Pellerin.
“I’ve been doing this job since 1993 and I have never seen so many voters engaged and participating and getting out to vote,” Pellerin said.
Pellerin said things were “going smoothly” on Election Day at the County building as folks filtered in to cast their vote before the 8pm deadline.
“Every election we do a turnout pool, and I always put my dollar on 100% and we are getting closer to 100% every day—so I’m very excited,” Pellerin said Tuesday. “Our record was around 88% at a turnout for a presidential (race) and I think we’re going to bust that and hopefully get into the 90s.”
As of Wednesday morning, more than 126,000 registered voters had turned in their ballots, according to the County website. The vast majority of voters (115,291) submitted their ballots by mail and 11,133 voters chose to vote in-person.
Pellerin said that all workers at the County building were practicing health protocols regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, including disinfecting voting machines, work stations and pens after every use.
Those who chose to cast their ballot in-person said the process was “very quick and easy.”
“It feels great,” said Dave Allen as he exited the County building Tuesday morning. “My civic duty is fulfilled. There was no tension for me.”
The same could be said for voters who showed to the Civic Plaza in Watsonville. Dozens flowed through the Community Room on the fourth floor of the building, and at one point, around 5:30pm, there was a 30-40 minute wait. That long line, Watsonville City Clerk Beatriz Vazquez-Flores said, was gone by 6pm, but the steady stream of voters continued to trickle in through the 8pm deadline.
Some were dropping off their completed ballots, and others were filling in their choices on the spot.
That included Jose, 36, who asked to only be identified by his first name.
“I’m out here not only because it’s our civic duty, but to try to change the course this country has taken for the last four years,” he said. “Just trying to improve things not only for myself but also for my community and my kid. [I want] to set a precedent for the future generations so they can see what we’re capable of when we all get together for one purpose instead of dividing the country.”
Vazquez-Flores thanked the 27 volunteers (17 County employees and 10 City employees) who worked the polling station starting at 7am.
As of Wednesday, 64.8% of 21,468 registered City of Watsonville voters had cast their ballots, according to the County website.
Editor’s note: Tony Nuñez contributed to this report.