LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — More than 6.5 million Californians have voted early, outpacing the most previous presidential elections.
Voters showed up in large numbers in Orange County and Los Angeles County for early voting on Saturday, just 10 days ahead of the November 3 election.
In five days all polls will open in Orange County, but the Laguna Niguel center was the first of five pop-up locations in the county. Dozens of people were seen lining up there — physically distanced and wearing face coverings — an hour before polls opened.
“I’m just excited I got to vote in person!” one voter told CBS2/KCAL9.
Saturday marked Orange County’s first day of in-person voting, and many people came out to Laguna Niguel Regional Park for a pop-up voting center.
There had been other opportunities to vote by mail or through a drop-off box.
“My mail in ballot didn’t show up, I would have preferred to vote by mail, but others in this line say they’ve waited to vote in person,” said voter Joe Gollegas.
Some voters had been concerned about not physically turning their ballots into an official after reports about unofficial boxes across the Southland, and even a fire at one ballot box.
“I’ve just seen all kinds of things on the news that ballots were being burned and thrown away,” said Claire McKay. “I was voting in person to make sure there was no funny business!’
Orange County has 1.7 million registered voters, all of them were sent a mail in ballot— and before the polls even opened— a third had already been received. That marks a 500 percent increase in mail-in ballots from the 2018 Presidential Election.
“I think it’s amazing people are so interested in our country! And it’s awesome!” said one voter.
Some in Laguna Niguel said considering coronavirus precautions, they felt more comfortable voting at the park since it is outdoors.
Poll workers also took care to wipe down every station after it was used, and were giving out masks when needed.
“(Poll) workers are outfitted with PPE from face shields and gloves, etc. wiping down the equipment,” said California Secretary of State Alex Padilla.
Elsewhere, in Los Angeles County, in-person polls also opened on Saturday at The Forum, an indoor arena in Inglewood.
Local Angelenos were among the tens of millions of Americans who voted early for the general election
Like other people in Orange County and in other parts of the U.S., one Inglewood couple said they felt safer coming in person to cast their votes.
“It just seems a little bit more official just because it’s been the standard for so long,” said Gerard Sayles.
Due to coronavirus concerns, many people have avoided gatherings at the behest of health officials, but some say despite the enhanced cleaning methods poll workers are providing, they feel more secure about the traditional way of being involved in the democratic process.
On October 30, all L.A. County and Orange County locations will be available through election day.
L.A. County residents can visit LAVote.net to find the closest vote center to you and the website will provide an estimated wait time for each location
Orange County voters can visit OCVote.com for more details about the 2020 Election.