Voters at El Camino College reflect on their vote

Manoj+Warrier+%28left%29+and+Patrick+Ty%2C+poll+workers+for+the+polling+place+set+up+in+El+Camino+College%27s+East+Dining+Room%2C+cheer+for+a+first+time+voter+on+Monday%2C+Nov.+2.+Before+entering%2C+voters+were+required+to+use+hand+sanitizer+and+offered+latex+gloves+to+wear.+%28Jaime+Solis%2F+The+Union%29

Manoj Warrier (left) and Patrick Ty, poll workers for the polling place set up in El Camino College’s East Dining Room, cheer for a first time voter on Monday, Nov. 2. Before entering, voters were required to use hand sanitizer and offered latex gloves to wear. (Jaime Solis/ The Union)

South Bay residents took to the polls at El Camino College’s voting center on Election Day for its convenient location and sentimental relevance.

According to Political Data Inc., 58% of registered voters in California have voted as of 8 p.m. Tuesday. This includes many first time voters such as 28-year-old El Camino student Rachel Hale.

“We have the power to make a change, and we should be excited about it and active about it,” Hale, paralegal studies major and Gardena resident, said.

Hale says that she never felt like she had power, but her professors at El Camino encouraged her to use her voice and vote.

“I have always taken this perspective of like, you know, I’m a small ant in this huge sphere and what power do I have, but I think because of the educators I’ve been exposed to it just really compelled me to do my due diligence and make it happen,” Hale said.

For Hale, proposition 23, which addresses dialysis centers, was one of the most important propositions to vote on because her grandmother suffered kidney disease and was “a victim of poorly run dialysis centers.”

Celina Andrade, 72, waits for her family after voting at El Camino College's polling place, set up in the East Dining Room, located above EC's bookstore, on Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Celina Andrade, 72, waits for her family after voting at El Camino College’s polling place, set up in the East Dining Room, located above EC’s bookstore, on Tuesday, Nov. 3. For many, coming to vote at EC was a matter of convenience while for others, such as Andrade and her family, it was an opportunity to visit a place long unseen. (Jaime Solis/ The Union)

While this was some voters first time voting, Gary Lampkins, a retired high tech consultant, 71, hasn’t missed a vote since the 1970s.

“It’s one of the few civic duties we have, and as you have noticed, I did the other one,” Lampkins said as he motioned towards his Vietnam war veteran’s hat.

The Lincoln elementary school was Lampkins’s normal voting center, but El Camino College is closer, and being a former student, he chose ECC instead for this election.

“I went here for a few years, and this is as close as I have been to the campus since 1969,” Lampkins said. “I was drafted that year, so I will always remember it.”

Several voters say they think that voting for the president is the most important part of the ballot. However, the outcomes they would like for that position vary.

Lampkins voted for Donald Trump and hopes he is elected to “continue to improve the economy, continue to ensure we have all our rights, [and] continue to get peace in the Middle East.”

Annette Smith (left) and Sharmaine Lewis (right) manage the Drop-off Station in El Camino College's East Dining Room, located above the Bookstore, just before closing on Monday, Nov. 2. (Jaime Solis/ The Union)
Annette Smith (left) and Sharmaine Lewis (right) manage the Drop-off Station in El Camino College’s East Dining Room, located above the Bookstore, just before closing on Monday, Nov. 2. It is estimated 400 voters arrived to cast their ballots and have their voices counted. (Jaime Solis/ The Union)

18-year-old John Sanchez says while he doesn’t like either candidate, he voted for Joe Biden.

“I was raised in a minority family, so we didn’t have much growing up, and so I think it’s important that whoever I am going to vote for today makes a positive impact on how we live for the next four years,” Sanchez said.

For other voters, everything on the ballot is of equal importance.

26-year-old Paulina Bablo said she voted for the first time because “everything is bad,” and there are people who really need help.

“There are no jobs, food is expensive, and rent is expensive,” Bablo said. “It’s the same salary, but everything is getting more expensive.”

Last election, Terri Whetstone, ECC voting center lead, 58, was in charge of the voting center at the senior center in Downey.

This year is a completely different experience due to the coronavirus, Whetstone said. Everyone is wearing masks and gloves and keeping a six feet distance.

“It’s just being respectful to each other and the people that come into vote,” Whetstone said. “That’s what we hold each other accountable for.”

Whetstone estimates that about 400 people have voted at the ECC voting center between Oct. 30 and Oct. 2. Sunday evening, around 5 p.m., was the busiest time. On election day, there were around 300 votes, with the busiest time being around 2 p.m.

In comparison, the Alondra Community Regional Park voting center lead said they received 300-400 votes a day and have been open since Oct. 24.

El Camino College's East Dining Room was converted into a polling place starting on Friday, Oct. 30 up until Election Day, where they provided extended hours for last minute voters. Members from all throughout the community were invited to take advantage of the location's convenience. Image taken Monday, Nov. 2. (Jaime Solis/ The Union)
El Camino College’s East Dining Room was converted into a polling place starting on Friday, Oct. 30 up until Election Day, where they provided extended hours for last minute voters. Members from all throughout the community were invited to take advantage of the location’s convenience. Image taken Monday, Nov. 2. (Jaime Solis/ The Union)

Several voters chose the ECC voting center because of its convenient location. However, for Argelia Andrade, a Spanish professor at El Camino College, there was a more sentimental reason.

“There is a church on Yukon that I usually go to, but I was happy to be on campus because we haven’t been here since March,” Andrade, Torrance resident, said.

Whetstone says that she sees a lot of stuff going on in the news and that there are problems at other sites she doesn’t see at ECC.

“We haven’t had any issues here, and so I’m praying that we don’t,” Whetstone said.

Overall, several voters say they want to see change and unity after the election.

“I hope that we have renewed leadership so that whatever we need to do we do together as a country,” Andrade said.

 

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS STORY WAS UPDATED NOV. 4 FOR A CLARIFICATION.