The buzz surrounding Measure R and the future of development in Malibu seemed evident to volunteer workers on Tuesday, who said they were being kept quite busy at the polls.
At Point Dume Marine Science School, polling stations were set up in the library. Clerks reported a heavy turnout around 1 p.m. with more votes by mail than they could remember seeing years before, clerks Frank and Martha Snider said.
After months of talk around town, signs displayed and even a well-publicized debate about polarizing Measure R, Malibuites seemed ready and eager to cast their votes on the controversial ballot measure.
“Measure R, it’s what they’re here for,” Snider said.
The clerks and inspector assigned to polling locations work the entire Election Day, setting up before 7 a.m. and ending around 9 p.m.
Workers were optimistic that turnout would surpass the town’s last election in April 2014, when just 19.8 percent of eligible voters participated in the City Council election. For that mid-term vote, 1,799 of the town’s 9,097 eligible registered voters submitted ballots.
“We’ve had some very cheery dispositions today,” Clerk Shirley D’Haenens said at the City Hall polling location.
“It’s been very busy here. People are exercising their right to vote and it’s wonderful,” D’Haenens added.
She became involved working as a clerk with her husband over 10 years ago.
“We had two first timers today that were so excited,” D’Haenens said. “After 12 years, two Canadian citizens became American citizens. They were so happy to vote and they took it very seriously.”
The team at City Hall laughed and recalled how happy the two new Americans were to cast their votes in their first elections as citizens.
“This is an amazing crew here,” Inspector Larry Rick said.
At Duke’s Restaurant, polling booths were packed all day with voters casting ballots — an unusual sight for clerk Joanna Rehm.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had every booth filled and we did today. That’s never happened,” Rehm said. “It’s been absolutely packed here.”
Clerk Megan Emory agreed that the room filled with voters at 2 p.m. wasn’t something she had seen in a while.
“It’s very busy for a mid-term election,” Emory said.
By mid-morning on Election Day, clerks working the polling station in the Malibu High School library agreed that voter turnout seemed strong and steady.
With more than 100 votes registered and 485 votes by mail counted, Poll Inspector Gail Niley was optimistic about the early activity in the library.
“This is about average for this particular polling location but it will peak around 4 or 5,” Niley said.
Niley has helped voters with ballots at polling locations for about 18 years and loves being able to give back to the community.
“Some of the government teachers get to bring their students in to show them the process. We’ve had several of the seniors who are registered to vote show up, also. It’s nice to see them here. Voting is an important privilege,” Niley said.
MHS Librarian Denise Peak agreed as voters walked in and out of her library.
“It’s good to see this in action … for the people to care,” Peak said. “Each vote does make a difference. It’s really important to get involved.”
While everything seemed to function without a hitch on Election Day, there’s always room for more help.
“We need more young people, young poll workers,” Rehm said.