Merced County voters are going to polling stations today to decide the makeup of the Board of Supervisors and to cast votes in the presidential and U.S. Senate races.
Polling booths opened at 7 a.m. and will stay open until 8 p.m. tonight.
Some polling stations saw a steady line of voters right away. Birdi Olivarez- Kidwell, inspector for the voting station at the Christian Life Center in Merced said turnout was higher than expected.
“Usually, at this time, there would be one person,” said Olivarez- Kidwell, 50, who has worked at the voting station since 2008 and had three generations of her family joining her as poll workers.
Voters in parts of Merced County were choosing among the candidates for three Board of Supervisors seats. The results of the race, which has two incumbents fighting for re-election and one seat open, voters have the opportunity to install a new majority on the board. California voters also were selecting U.S. Senate candidates to advance to the November election.
According to county figures, there were 92,296 registered voters in Merced County, with more than 2,750 new names added from the tally reported last month. The total is slightly below the total seen for the 2012 primary election, when there were nearly 95,000 registered voters in Merced County.
At the voting station set up at Calvary Chapel, inspector Cierra Cronin, 21, said 13 voters came in during the first hour of voting Tuesday.
“I expect a lot more from last election because this one is for president,” Cronin said.
There were some complaints over a decision by The Associated Press to declare on Monday that Hillary Clinton had secured enough delegates to become the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party. Olivarez- Kidwell called it a “disservice to California voters.”
The announcement, she said, could discourage people from voting.
In contrast, Atwater resident Edward Huddleston, who was an inspector at the Gracey Elementary School polling station, said he thinks the AP’s report wouldn’t change anyone’s vote.
“I don’t think it’ll change people's opinions because people already know who they’re voting for,” Huddleston said
First-time voter Jason Moua, who supports Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination, said the announcement may actually have given voters like him an incentive to turn out.
“Well, I’ve always wanted to vote for Bernie and it made me want to come here and make sure he’s in the lead,” the 19-year-old Moua said.
Moua said he supports the Vermont senator’s views on health care and making college education more affordable.
Huddleston, 63, said this presidential race has been different from any other he has seen.
“I’ve never experienced someone like Trump, the things he says,” Huddleston said, referring to the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee.
“We’re supposed to be here as one,” Huddleston said. “I actually thought it was a joke when Trump ran.”
We need someone who's going to keep us together, Huddleston said. Trump continues to divide up the country, he said.
“You can’t stop change,” Huddleston said. “It’s coming whether you like it or not.”