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Heavy turnout delays vote results
Polling sites stayed open past 8 p.m.
Long lines at polling places through Tulare County delayed results Tuesday night.
Normally, the first results are posted just after the polls close at 8 p.m., but several polling sites had people waiting to vote at 8 and extended voting. The county could not release any results until all voting had ended.
The first results were finally released at just after 8:30 p.m., with about 35,000 ballots reported. The county anticipated approximately 100,000 ballots cast, but turnout was better than expected.
The deadline definitely pushed back results for Porterville. Ballots from all polling sites are taken to the Porterville Memorial Hall and then those are driven to the county elections office in Visalia for processing. Porterville is always the last area to be processed.
At the First United Methodist Church on E. Putnam in Porterville a long line stretched outside at just after 7 p.m. Tuesday. Turnout there had been much heavier than expected.
“We had 20 people waiting in line most of the day,” said Precinct Captain Jeff Keele, “except for a couple of hours in the afternoon when there was no waiting.”
Irene Lopez was making her third attempt at voting there and she had waited 30 minutes.
“I came in the morning and it was too long. I came at noon and tonight,” she said.
Others said they were not only having to wait, but questioned why their polling site had been moved.
Keele said there was a lot of confusion by voters because of the changes in precincts and the increase in the number of people who were required to vote by mail. Ann Turner, elections manager, said 62 percent of the county’s 146,415 registered voters were vote-by-mail.
“Provisionals are through the roof,” said Keele of his precinct. He said they were making copies of ballots to use as provisional ballots. He also said they had a lot of people drop off their ballots on Tuesday.
Those dropped off ballots and provisional ballots will delay vote results. They will take days, if not weeks, to process and count.
Keele said they were also running out of regular ballots with 30 minutes to go in the voting.
Initial voter turnout in Porterville and Tulare County looked promising Tuesday morning.
“This has been more than I have seen it in a very, very long time,” said Lori Lady, chief inspector at the Veterans Memorial Building polling site, at about noon Tuesday.
Lady, who has been a poll worker for 23 years, said that by 7 a.m. Tuesday morning, there were roughly 20 people in line at the polling place, which serves three precincts.
Just after noon, voter turnout there was at 231, not counting provisional or mail-in ballots.
A similar scenario played out at First United Methodist Church on Morton Avenue with 230 voters by noon and 111 voters at First Baptist Church on North G Street by 12:15 p.m.
Poll workers at different sites also encountered irked voters.
“People are real frustrated with the reorganizing of the precincts and not knowing where to go,” Lady said. “And, a lot of people don’t want to be a mail-in ballot, they want to come in, stand at the booth, get their ballot and stick it in the machine.”
Angie Rodriguez-Angeles, chief inspector at the First Baptist Church site, said one voter flung an “I Voted” sticker at her after he learned he had to vote using a provisional ballot.
“He said we didn’t give him the right to vote because of the redirection of precincts,” Rodriguez-Angeles said. “He was not happy at all, neither was his wife or his friend.”
A random sampling of people exiting poll sites around Porterville Tuesday morning had President Barack Obama ahead of Mitt Romney in the presidential race.
“Let Obama win,” said 77-year-old Magdalena Escobar, “I’ve learned a lot during his term and I agree with his beliefs.”
First-time voter Daniel Deleon said he voted for Santa Claus.
“He’s a candidate but he changed his legal name to that. His real name is Thomas O’Connor and he’s an independent candidate,” Deleon said, adding that he did not vote for Obama or Romney because he’s just not interested in them.
“This guy is more of a real guy. The others only offer empty promises and you can’t really trust what they’re saying,” he said.
The 18-year-old Porterville College student said he also voted yes on Proposition 30 — Gov. Jerry Brown’s measure to raise taxes on those who make more than $250,000 a year and to also temporarily raise the sales tax by a quarter of a percent.
“I put yeah, but it’s iffy,” Deleon said. “In the end what it comes down to is that we need to put our money somewhere, even if it’s not guaranteed, we have some money into the schools.”