Fresno Co. voters experience delays at polls

FRESNO, Calif.

The voter hotline went down for ten minutes Tuesday due to the phone lines being overloaded. That problem is just one several voters said they have with this election.

For a brief period around lunch time, 600-V.O.T.E., the Fresno county election information line went down. "It has a capacity of 38 calls at one time and it has been exceptionally busy," said Registrar Victor Salazar.

Salazar said the problem was fixed quickly and calls started pouring back in.

Salazar predicts a solid 54- 56% voter turnout which has created another issue: longer than normal waits at polling stations. "This is why we were so concerned about the massive reduction in polling place closures," said Daniela Simunovic with activist group Communities for a New California (C.N.C.).

C.N.C. officials said if Salazar did not reduce the number of polling stations from 400 to 200 to narrow his budget these problems could have been avoided.

"We're really concerned. We're encouraging people to stay. Wait out the lines. Don't turn around out of frustration and go home," Simunovic said.

Last week postcards went out to residents and signs were posted at old polling stations informing them of new polling locations.

But not everyone we spoke with can recall receiving the cards and some overlooked the signs. "We went across the street to where we usually vote at Bethany church and we didn't see any signs out there and walked in and to our surprise there was not voting there," voter Gerald Sepeda said.

Action News checked and the sign is posted at Bethany church.

The combining of polling places has created another challenge for poll workers. Voters names are now on two to three different lists, adding to voting delays and if someone's name is missing they still have the option to cast a provisional ballot

"It was good. I got through and it was very easy and the line actually formed right after me. So I got here at a good time," voter Barbara Kelly said.

The registrar said no one will be turned away as long as they show up to a polling location before 8 p.m. That's also the deadline to drop off a mail in ballot at the elections office or a polling place.

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