Election Day turnout strong | TheUnion.com

Election Day turnout strong

A sign outside a polling place on Idaho Maryland Road.

Voters are deciding contests all across the United States today, and turnout may be up here in Nevada County. By 11:30 a.m., one precinct in Grass Valley had already seen twice as many voters as they did in June.

Dennis Cassella, a poll inspector volunteering at the Foothill Event Center on Idaho-Maryland Road, said that precinct had only 33 voters come in to cast a ballot in person for this year’s June primary. By noon, however, more than 66 voters had already turned out — with more waiting by the door.

“As you can see, we’ve got people lined up,” Cassella said, pointing to a half a dozen voters waiting to check in. “Last time we sat for hours, just bored to death.”

Cassella speculated that Measure S, the controversial medical marijuana cultivation ordinance, could have been a motivating factor.

Carol Coelho, of Grass Valley, said she votes in every election. This time she turned out to support Governor Brown, who she said has done a fantastic job.

Coelho also took an interest in Measure S.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I just don’t like Grass Valley to be labelled ‘Grass Valley.’”

Gwen Fissel, also of Grass Valley, said she wanted to support embattled city council candidate Terry Lamphier, who she believes could still win despite the controversy stemming from his recent criminal investigation.

Fissel believes Lamphier is innocent until proven guilty.

“I was really upset about the whole thing with Terry and the computer,” Fissel said. “But he hasn’t been charged with anything, so I wanted to get in there.”

Fissel said she believes strongly in Heidi Hall, a Grass Valley resident and Democratic challenger for congress. She also expressed concerns about how the recent redistricting of California’s congressional districts in 2012 are affecting the outcome of races like District 1.

“It’s tough for a Democrat to win,” Fissel said.

Today’s election is Nevada County’s first time using an “electronic poll book,” a tablet-like device that allows polling place volunteers to look up voters from a digital database rather than by manually checking hard copies of the voter rolls.

Dennis Cassella, the inspector mentioned above, said this made it easy to help voters figure out whether or not they’d come to the right polling place. If they weren’t on the rolls, volunteers could easily expand the search to the rest of the county and find out where that voter needed to go.

The new technology did present some new problems, however. Some voters experienced difficulty signing their names on the touch pads. If the wrong part of their hand touched the surface of the tablet, it could ruin the signature.

Left-handed voters also experienced difficulty signing their names, as did voters with shaky hands or any kind of palsy — which Cassella said had been a factor for at least three or four voters by late morning.

Two-thirds of Nevada County’s voters are registered to vote by mail, according to information from the Nevada County Elections Office. By 11:55 a.m. Tuesday, more than 20,100 ballots had been returned and checked in.

In June, the total number of ballots cast in Nevada County was only 27,596.

To contact staff writer Dave Brooksher, send emails to dbrooksher@theunion.com or call 530-477-4230.

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