October 29, 2004

No Spanish Language Voter Guides, But There Will Be Bilingual Poll Workers to Help With the Vote

By Pablo Jaime Sainz

Just days before the Nov. 2 elections, the atmosphere at the San Diego County Registrar of Voters is full of “excitement.”

“We’re very busy,” said Registrar of Voters Sally McPherson. “We have a lot of work, but I’ve heard a lot of our employees saying that is exciting for them to see so many people participating on these elections.”

And since the voting period started on October 4 at the Registrar of Voters offices, located on 5201 Ruffin Rd, in San Diego, the place has been particularly congested on the days previous to the elections, McPherson said.

From that day on, hundreds of people have voted early, she said. Also, this year there have been more people using absentee ballots.

The Registrar of Voters began preparing for the Nov. 2 presidential elections right after the primary election in March, McPherson said.

She added that next Tuesday, voters in San Diego will not be using the touch-screens used in March. Some of those machines presented several technical problems on the primary elections day.

But the main reason San Diego County is going to be using paper ballots on Nov. 2 is because California Secretary of State, Kevin Shelley, ordered that all newly developed touch-screens must have voter verificable paper trail.

And even though McPherson said that “voters loved the touch-screens”, San Diego County will use paper ballots, where voters will need to fill-up bubbles with a marker.

After voting, voters will feed the ballot into a scanner that will read their responses.

“The paper system used has scanner protection. It also gives voters the opportunity to correct their ballot if they have not marked their vote properly,” McPherson said.

The Latino Vote

The Registrar of Voters has reached its minimum required of bilingual poll workers. But McPherson said that bilingual poll workers are still being hired as back-ups.

The Spanish-speaking poll workers will be available in areas with high concentration of Hispanics, such as several parts of the city of San Diego, Chula Vista, National City, and San Ysidro, she said

McPherson added that there was to be Spanish-language voter guides available but due to poor translation of the English guide into Spanish, all the guides were recalled, an embarrassing moment for the Register of Voters.

Carmen Lopez, a Spanish-language outreach coordinator at the Registrar of Voters, said that she has noticed a larger number of Spanish speakers registering to vote this year.

“I think there’s a national campaign where many Latino organizations are urging Latinos to register to vote and actually go out and vote. The Democrats and Republicans are particularly interested in the Latino vote this year,” Lopez said.

“Without a doubt, the Latino vote will be very important,” she added.

“I think Latinos are realizing that it is their right to go out and vote,” she said.

Registrar of Voters Address:
5201 Ruffin Rd.
San Diego, CA 92123
Phone: 858-565-5800
Fax: 858-694-2955
Web: www.sdvote.com

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