Russell's Blog

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The lonely ballot

Posted by Russell on March 07, 2007 at 5:01 a.m.
Evidently I was the only one in my district who noticed the Official Sample Ballot that showed up in my mailbox a few weeks ago. When I walked into the the building (a Goodwill donation center near my apartment), the poll workers regarded me with astonishment and bewilderment. "Can I... Can I help you?" one of them asked.

It was well past noon, and they'd been there since 8:00. Besides the five of them, I was the first voter to arrive. They'd been drinking soda, telling stories and playing cards all day. I inked my ballot, dropped it into the scanner thingy. I could actually hear it go thunk into the empty plastic bottom of the ballot box.

I live in a very crowded West Los Angeles district; by population alone, I'd guess that there are a few thousand people assigned to my polling place.

On Sunday, I handed out fliers at an Albertsons grocery store for Bennett Kayser, who is running for the school board (Bennett and Peggy Kayser are old family friends). Almost everyone I spoke with -- about a thousand people -- was surprised to learn that there was an election coming up. Not a single person remembered receiving a sample ballot. Evidently, my observations weren't anecdotal:

Despite the high stakes and high spending, Tuesday's election was marked by low turnout. Poll workers sat waiting futilely in school auditoriums, offices and churches across the sprawling, 700-square mile district that serves Los Angeles and more than two dozen other cities.

"This is the lowest turnout I've ever seen," said Leslie Spikes, who has worked at a polling station in an education center on West 48th Street for the last three years. "It's kind of sad when you think it's about the kids."

Depressing. California has too many damn elections.
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