The big rush of voters in Valencia County went to the polls before Election Day.
While 5,070 ballots were cast on Tuesday, Nov. 3, county voters turned out early, casting 15,289 early ballots and submitting 11,728 absentee ballots, for a total of 32,087 ballots cast.
“I think we had such a high turnout, in a way, because of the pandemic,” said Valencia County Clerk Peggy Carabajal. “People were at home more, they were paying more attention maybe than they did in their normal, busy lives.”
Many of the people voting this year were considered inactive voters, the clerk said, meaning they hadn’t voted in many of the last several elections.
“Some people told us they voted in the last presidential, so we thought they meant 2016. No, they meant 2008,” she said. “We had some who hadn’t voted since 1996.”
Carabajal said overall there was a lot of outreach and attention drawn to this election — everything from a television ad with all 33 county clerks coordinated by Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver to the many “Trump Trains” that made their way through the streets.
In the county, 69.58 percent of the 46,109 registered voters turned out for the General Election, slightly better than the 67.51 percent turnout statewide.
When we posed the question of “Why did you vote this year?” to our readers on Facebook, there was a range of answers.
Many people said they were voting for their children, the future, while others emphasized their civic duty and right to vote.
“I voted because democracy only works if the people remain engaged in the system and make their wants known through the process of voting,” wrote Michelle Desmond.
Other commenters touched on deeper, social issues.
“When I look back at the last four years, I see division, hate, anxiety, separation, rage,” Michael Garcia wrote. “I see my friends unemployed, I see more and more homelessness in the streets. I see a pandemic that has wrecked this country while the rest of the world has started to recover. I voted because I need this nightmare to end.”
LaDoris Garley wrote that it took 100 years and two constitutional amendments for her to gain the right to vote.
“I voted because I believe in science, kindness, decency and the greater good,” Garley said.
Not being taxed into poverty was the reason Saada Howard voted in the General Election this year.
“I have lived that and it’s awful,” Howard wrote. “I can’t let the country go back the way it was four years ago!”