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Window Service for Voter Registration


Like many drive-through operators, Thomas McCoy tries to keep his customers moving.

But unlike fast-food purveyors, McCoy isn't offering up a quick cheeseburger, fries and a shake. He's offering voter registration--and it's free for the asking.

A local bank has given McCoy the keys to a vacant drive-through teller's building at Pickwick Drive and Arneill Road in Camarillo.

"We do things differently in California," McCoy said. "We're not bound up by tradition. If it's a good idea, we put it into effect. I think that's what we've seen happen here."

McCoy, who will take a seat in January as a member of the Ventura County Republican Central Committee, said potential voters from all political affiliations are welcome to register at the bank's drive-through.

"We don't care whether they're Democrats or Republicans or anything in between," he said. "They all can come here and register quickly and efficiently without getting a speech."

Since operations began Sept. 26, about 200 voters have registered for the Nov. 8 election out of the little building. Voter registration ends Tuesday.

There are 345,346 people registered to vote countywide, said Bruce Bradley, Ventura County's chief elections official.

Bradley called the Camarillo project a unique approach to increasing voter registration.

"In Sonoma County, they have a similar drive-through registration system, but other than that, this is the only other one like it," he said. "I think it's a catchy idea."

Cheryl Courtney, manager of the Wells Fargo branch that owns the teller building, said the bank never used the annex. When McCoy approached her about the voter registration project, the bank didn't hesitate, she said.

"I don't know about you, but I use drive-up everything in my life," Courtney said. "We saw this as a way to support the community and to increase access for people who are seeking to register to vote."

Several other local companies agreed to keep the volunteer registrars fed and in good stock of paper, pens and other necessities.

Volunteer Stephen M. Brewster said no one has asked for a meal so far, but some have attempted financial transactions.

"We've had people try to cash a check," Brewster said. "We tell them they're welcome to register to vote here, but for money, they'll have go to the bank."

On Tuesday, Brewster--one of several dozen volunteers who staff the drive-through--dispatched a voter registration form and a pen through a mechanical banker's drawer for Alfred Bianco, a 54-year-old Camarillo resident.

Bianco, who is changing addresses, said he liked the convenience of the drive-through program--even if his first form got stuck in the mechanical drawer and he had to fill out another.

"I think this a great idea," Bianco said. "This makes registering easy. I think we would have bigger voter turnouts if we had more places like this."

For Donna Cox, also of Camarillo, the drive-through was in keeping with the state's laid-back culture.

"This is so California," said Cox, 29. "And it sure beats standing in line at the post office."

The teller building will remain open for voter registration from 9:15 a.m. to 7:15 p.m. daily through Tuesday, Brewster said.

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