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Shasta County election updates: High early vote turnout slows reporting of results

Mike Chapman
Redding Record Searchlight

Shasta County voters on Tuesday went to the polls to vote on local, state and national races.

In Redding, two seats are at stake on the City Council as four challengers look to unseat incumbents Adam McElvain and Julie Winter.

Incumbent Steve Morgan is being challenged by Patrick Jones for the Shasta County Board of Supervisors District 4 seat.

Republican incumbent Doug LaMalfa is once again being challenged by Democrat Audrey Denney in California Congressional District 1.

California Senate District 1 and California Assembly District 1 seats also are on the ballot Tuesday night.

North State voters also are weighing in on the Shasta Lake City Council and county school board and special district races.  

Large early vote slows Shasta County election results 

10:45 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3

As of 10:45 p.m., Shasta County residents are still waiting on election results for several local races. The county has tallied about 48,000 votes thus far, while almost double that number voted in 2016. 

Shasta County Clerk Cathy Darling Allen, who runs the county's election office, said the high number of early votes has contributed to the delay. She said about 8,000 people voted early in the county, up from about 800 in the March primary. 

Of those early ballots, 500 have had issues that needed specific attention, Allen said, like a ballot that has both yes and no checked for a state proposition. That slows things down because it requires human eyes to resolve. 

"That’s many more than we’re used to dealing with on election night," Allen said. 

Allen said she expected another numbers update by about 11 p.m. 

Around 10:30 p.m., Allen said elections officials have only half of precinct results in the building. 

"We also still don’t have votes in the building yet from the Intermountain area," she said.

Voter mood: Distrust drives in-person voting

Daniel Lucas voted at the Shasta County Elections Department on Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020, wearing his thin-blue line mask, which symbolizes support for all law enforcement personnel.

A survey of voters outside the Shasta County Elections Department on Tuesday shows people want to vote in person to make sure their ballot gets counted.

Several voters said they wanted to drop their ballots off or vote in person because of mistrust of the mail. Others say they vote in person for the sake of tradition.

Daniel Lucas went to the elections office in downtown Redding so he could vote directly.

"I don't trust drop-it-in-the-mail ballots," he said.

Where are ballot drop off locations near me?

1:30 p.m. update, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020

The ballot drop boxes closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday. They are at:

  • Shasta County Elections Office, 1643 Market St. in Redding
  • Redding City Hall, 777 Cypress Ave. in Redding
  • Anderson City Hall, 1887 Howard St. in Anderson
  • Redding Electric Utility, 3611 Avtech Parkway in Redding
  • Shasta County Sheriff Burney Station, 20509 Shasta St. in Burney
  • Shasta Lake Visitor Center, 1525 Median Ave. in Shasta Lake

Staffed drop boxes open during daytime hours are at:

  • Holiday Market at 2455 Hartnell Ave. in Redding
  • Holiday Market at 3315 Placer St. in Redding
  • Holiday Market at 9350 Deschutes Road in Palo Cedro
  • Holiday Market at 20635 Gas Point Road in Cottonwood
  • Sav-Mor at 6536 Westside Road in Redding
  • Happy Valley Country Market at 5235 Happy Valley Road in Anderson
  • My-T-Fine Foods at 21919 Highway 299 in Bella Vista
  • Reed’s Market at 7007 Shingle Glen Trail in Shingletown

An Election Day tradition

Bill and Rachelle Custer read over ballot information before casting their votes Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, outside the Shasta County Elections Department. They go to the downtown polling place every year as part of a tradition. They said they also vote in person "to make sure (their ballots) go where they're supposed to and not get lost."

1:15 p.m. update, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020

Bill and Rachelle Custer have a tradition of going to the downtown elections office to read over ballot information before voting in person.

They said they want to vote in person "to make sure (their ballots) go where they're supposed to and not get lost."

Virus precautions at polling booths

Kathleen Haagenson, a volunteer poll worker, disinfects a voting booth on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, outside the Shasta County Elections Department in downtown Redding using an antibacterial wipe as a precaution against COVID-19.

1 p.m. update, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020

Poll workers were disinfecting polling booths outside the Shasta County Elections Department in downtown Redding on Election Day as a precaution against COVID-19.

Student 'street journalists' interview voters

High school students interview Elia Juarez outside the Shasta County Elections Department as part of the election coverage provided by the Shasta Community Access Channel on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.

12:30 p.m. update, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020

Local high school students took to the streets during Election Day on Tuesday to interview voters as part of coverage provided by the Shasta Community Access Channel.

"We're really excited to have the cooperation of both Shasta High and U-Prep. They both ponied up some students to come and help us," said Cathy Darling Allen, Shasta County's clerk and registrar of voters, in an SCAC livestream interview.

"These students are out now running around downtown Redding with cameras. They're going to go to some of our local polling places here in downtown Redding and try to interview voters and get some thoughts on tape," Allen said. 

Chalupa goes to the polls

Shantell Driver wears her "I voted" sticker after casting her ballot Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, at the Shasta County Elections Department with her pet chihuahua pug named Chalupa. "I forgot to send my ballot in. I wanted to make sure I came in before voting was done," she said.

12:15 p.m. update, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020

Shantell Driver wears her "I voted" sticker after casting her ballot Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, at the Shasta County Elections Department in downtown with her pet chihuahua pug named Chalupa.

"I forgot to send my ballot in. I wanted to make sure I came in before voting was done," she said.

Downtown Redding a colorful place to vote

The Shasta County Elections Department’s outdoor voting area at Umbrella Alley has to be one of the most colorful places to vote Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.

11:15 a.m. update, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020

The Shasta County Elections Department’s outdoor voting area at Umbrella Alley has to be one of the most colorful places to vote Tuesday.

Clerk: This election is 'off the charts'

10:45 a.m. update, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020

Cathy Darling Allen, Shasta County's clerk and registrar of voters, said she doesn't ever make a forecast on voter turnout, especially this time around.

"I never give a prediction on voter turnout and quite frankly, this election especially is so off the charts in every way that I would be really hard-pressed to figure out how to predict what was going to happen by the end of the night tonight," she said outside the county elections department Tuesday morning.

Cathy Darling Allen, Shasta County clerk/registrar of voters, on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.

Voting 'calmer' outside county elections department 

10 a.m. update, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020

Shasta County Clerk and Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling Allen said voting this morning is going "really well."

"Lots of folks showing up at polling places," Allen said.

She said voting was calmer so far Tuesday outside the downtown Shasta County Elections Department. There were long lines at times Saturday and Monday for early voting opportunities, but not much of a wait Tuesday morning.

Polls open in California; it's Election Day, not a holiday

7 a.m. update, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020

Polling places in California are officially open.

Voters can go to their precincts to vote or scan their vote-by-mail ballots. Polls close at 8 p.m.

While it's Election Day, it's not a holiday. Post offices, banks and schools are keeping their regular schedules.

ORIGINAL STORY

Voter enthusiasm was running high around Redding on Monday, the day before the presidential election.

Shasta County voters who went to the downtown elections office to cast their ballot had to wait in line on the sidewalk Monday morning. Others brought their vote-by-mail ballots to quickly deposit them in a collection box.

Shasta County Clerk and Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling Allen said about 300 people had voted in the polling place outside her office by noon. People had also lined up for early voting Saturday.

What time do polling places open and close on Election Day?

The county elections office will open at 7 a.m. Tuesday for Election Day to serve voters until closing time at 8 p.m.

Related:2020 election guide: What you should know before you vote in Shasta County

"Voters can also take their vote-by-mail ballots to their precinct on Tuesday and scan it themselves," Allen said.

Shasta County residents wait in line for early voting in front of the Shasta County Elections Department on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020.

'Mood is very enthusiastic'

The two party headquarters in Redding also were busy on Monday's election eve.

The Republican headquarters on Hartnell Avenue had long since sold out of President Donald Trump yard signs and banners. Supporters from Red Bluff also came to the Redding office for election supplies.

"The mood is very enthusiastic," said Cathy Kneer, the chairwoman of the Shasta County Republic Central Committee.

"Our headquarters on Hartnell has just been so lively ever since we opened up. We've had lots of enthusiasm all over the county," Kneer said by phone. "We've had volunteers show up like never before."

Peggy Towle of Redding, a volunteer at the Democratic headquarters on Locust Street, expressed optimism on her side.

"My personal opinion is that this is a heavy Republican county, but the Democrats I've met have been fabulous. I think they're coming on strong," Towle said.

Polling booths were frequently occupied during early voting in front of the Shasta County Elections Department on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020.

Several Democrats showed up Monday morning to replace Joe Biden signs that had been taken or damaged by vandals.

"It's been difficult in that we've had an awful lot of signs stolen and vandalized. I don't know if that's happening on the Republican side, but it is on the Democratic side," Towle said.

Kneer said she wasn't aware of a similar situation with Trump signs being vandalized locally.

One thing Towle has noticed is a surge of younger voters for this election, which could be a sign of a high voter turnout.

"I think the turnout is going to be huge because I've talked to so many people and so many 18-year-olds. I give them such a cheer because they just know their political mind. There's no wishy washy. They talk about sitting down at the kitchen table and talking with their parents and their siblings," Towle said.

"It's very interesting," she said. "The youth is coming on strong."

Kneer also predicts a big turnout based on the campaign season leading up to Tuesday's election.

"All the lively and fun parades, boat parades, car parades and get-togethers — I think the turnout is going to be high for our Republican Party," Kneer said.

"Shasta County is looking forward to a win," she said.

Mike Chapman is a reporter and photographer for the Record Searchlight in Redding, Calif. His newspaper career spans Yreka and Eureka in Northern California and Bellingham, Wash. Follow him on Twitter @mikechapman_RSSubscribe today!