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Election Workers Learning To Register Same-Day Voters At New Satellite Offices

Shontay Turner helps a election worker during a training session, Feb. 25, 20...

Photo by Tarryn Mento

Above: Shontay Turner helps a election worker during a training session, Feb. 25, 2020.

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County officials are launching four temporary voting sites staffed with specially trained workers to help San Diegans register to vote in the final days leading up to the election.

Aired: February 28, 2020 | Transcript

Helping San Diegans vote is part of Nancy Riley's retirement plan.

The 70-year-old supplements her income with temporary gigs such as assisting primary election voters who need to file or update their registration at the last minute.

"It’s challenging, there’s a lot to it and it really is a lot of fun," said Riley, a former nonprofit financial executive.

Riley is among dozens of specially trained employees who will staff four satellite offices opening this week to help with voter registration and complex situations leading up to and on election day.

San Diego County Satellite Voting Centers

Carmel Mountain Ranch Community Park, 10152 Rancho Carmel Dr.

San Marcos Community Center, 3 Civic Center Dr.

Spring Valley Community Center, 8735 Jamacha Blvd.

South Region Live Well Center, 690 Oxford St., Chula Vista

Centers open Sat.-Mon., 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Tues., 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Californians previously couldn't vote if they missed the registration deadline, which comes weeks before an election. A state law, however, now allows voters to register conditionally and cast a provisional ballot up until election day at any polling location.

San Diego County is opening the temporary offices in Chula Vista, Spring Valley, San Marcos and Carmel Mountain Ranch to handle the time-consuming cases and prevent long delays at neighborhood precincts.

RELATED: Election 2020: How To Use The KPBS Voter Guide

Officials are trying to learn from the 2018 midterm elections when the new law limited same-day registration to the registrar’s office and bottlenecked the Kearny Mesa location, Registrar of Voters Michael Vu said.

"It produced five-hour waiting lines — we’d like to try to avoid that," he said.

Reported by Tarryn Mento , Video by Nicholas Mcvicker

Photo caption:

Photo by Tarryn Mento

San Diego County Registrar of Voters Michael Vu stands next to a row of ballot marking devices at a satellite voting center in Spring Valley, Feb. 25, 2020.

Now that the law allows same-day registration at the county's hundreds of neighborhood polling locations, Vu said he hopes public messaging around the temporary voting sites will alleviate any additional pressure on precincts. But this presidential election brings even more challenges because turnout tends to be higher than gubernatorial years and hundreds of thousands of nonpartisan San Diego voters failed to notify the registrar they wanted to vote in the presidential election.

"If they knew that they were not going to get a presidential candidate on their respective ballot, they would probably be surprised," Vu said.

San Diegans can also go to the registrar's office in addition to the satellite centers to address any last-minute needs, Vu added.

During training ahead of the satellite centers opening on Saturday, instructor Shontay Turner said trainees such as Riley are playing out possible scenarios to prepare for any situation that comes their way — especially because the satellite centers will use a touch screen device that lets people make and then print out their choices.

"We’ve had some people who are really great actors and actresses who are combative or frustrated by technology or you know they may say, 'I liked the old way. Where can I vote on a paper ballot still instead of using the machine?' So we’re preparing for all of those scenarios," Turner said.

Riley, however, was more worried about the long hours.

Photo caption:

Photo by Tarryn Mento

Election worker Nancy Riley uses her phone during a break from training, Feb. 25, 2020.

"We have to be here from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m — just staying awake is going to be a challenge," she said.

But she’s faced tougher trials before. The first of her temporary gigs — which she calls her “fun jobs” — since retiring in 2014 was a six-month stint at an Alaskan fishing lodge.

"Fishing, rafting, tour guides — it was a blast," she said.

Working the primary election involves far less wildlife, but she said working with people is part of the fun. The county’s four satellite centers will be open Saturday through election night on Tuesday.

Listen to this story by Tarryn Mento.

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Photo of Tarryn Mento

Tarryn Mento
Health Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksThe health beat is about more than just illness, medicine and hospitals. I examine what impacts the wellness of humans and their communities.

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