Can’t Wait to Have Your Say? Come On Down

Times Staff Writer

Cheryl and Jessie Skates were among a trickle of early bird voters Wednesday who cast ballots at the Los Angeles County registrar’s office, but they were distinct for reasons beyond getting a one-month jump on the election.

He is 6 feet 9, she is 6 feet 2 -- both are members of the Tip Toppers club for tall people -- and their visit to the office in Norwalk was the first since they were married there. The Signal Hill couple have been together 30 years but finally wed three years ago at the government counter for the income tax savings.

“It was the day after Christmas. I had a terrible cold. This is our first time back here,” Cheryl Skates said before spending all of five minutes voting electronically on a touch screen, as did her husband.


It was the second day of early voting for the statewide Nov. 7 election, and sample and absentee ballots were just starting to land in mailboxes -- which historically starts people thinking about their vote, said Dean C. Logan, chief deputy registrar-recorder and county clerk.

Only a dozen people had cast ballots in the Norwalk office by early afternoon Wednesday. The day’s total of voters won’t be tallied until today, and their votes won’t be counted until election night.

On Tuesday, 46 people voted, 19 using the 6-year-old electronic touch screen. A third of Wednesday’s voters used the screen system.

The early voting push is part of the registrar’s campaign to make it almost impossible for someone to find an excuse not to vote.

“For early voting, the voter gets to choose when and where they want to vote,” Logan said. And starting Oct. 25, voters can cast ballots at 16 locations in addition to the registrar’s office. Besides the touch screens, another option at all 17 sites is dropping off an absentee ballot.

Voters can also mail in absentee ballots, as well as doing it the old-fashioned way and going to their polling place Nov. 7.

Given that most people cast ballots closer to election day, the only line Wednesday at the county building was on the first floor, where copies of birth and death certificates are offered.

On the third floor, in the registrar’s office, people such as Alba and Fernando Paiz of Norwalk were done voting electronically in less than five minutes.

“It’s easier,” said Fernando, 63, a retired trucker. “This is the third time [we have voted] this way,” said Alba, 61. They had read the hefty election guide cover to cover, they said, and, because they live nearby, wanted to vote while the information was fresh in their minds.

Despite the ease that people liked about touching a computer-like screen to cast ballots, most people voting at the registrar’s office Wednesday did so by absentee ballot.

Gloria Villa, 54, of South Gate had just become a U.S. citizen and was voting for the first time. Four generations were present for the special moment: her mother, Juana Carillo Felix, 69; Gloria’s daughter, Samantha, 25 -- who had driven them all -- and Gloria’s infant grandson.

“She has been here most of her life and finally decided to become a citizen, and then she wanted to do everything [that is] American,” Carillo said.

Villa, who speaks with some difficulty and needed assistance because of having had strokes, intended to vote on the touch-screen console, one of five at the registrar’s office designed for those with vision, hearing or other disabilities.

But in the end, her daughter said, after laboring at it awhile, Villa chose to vote on a paper absentee ballot. “She was just more comfortable with that.”

So too were Miriam and Morris Chester of Rancho Palos Verdes. “I think it’s a wonderful improvement,” Morris, 81, a retired physicist, said of the touch screen. “But it lacks assurances over control, of the security.”

Previous engagements will keep them from voting Nov. 7, so they drove 45 minutes to cast their votes by absentee ballot, he said, adding: “We wanted to make sure they got here.”

The registrar’s office will have a touch-screen voting station open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., through Nov. 6. It will also be open the weekends of Oct. 28 and 29 and Nov. 4 and 5, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Oct. 23 is the last day to register to vote. Information on how to locate polls and touch-screen station sites may be found at (800) 815-2666 or on the registrar’s website at

For exclusive Web features, including the new Political Muscle blog, go to