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Wednesday, Oct. 08, 2003 at 10:06 AM
LOS ANGELES: Reports of late poll openings, missing voting materials and equipment, and disenfranchised voters walking away from closed polls.
Volunteers leafleting against Prop 54 and against the recall outside Los Angeles polling places this morning report late poll openings, missing voting materials and equipment, and disenfranchised voters walking away from closed polls in frustration.
As one of perhaps twenty volunteers leafleting outside more than a dozen Hollywood/Silverlake/Echo Park polling places early this morning, I heard several stories of disenfranchised voters during our shift debrief at 9:30 a.m. One volunteer arrived at her assigned polling place just after 7 a.m and discovered that while voters were there and ready to vote, the polls were not yet open. The volunteer, a supporter of the statewide Coalition Against Proposition 54, immediately called the nearest campaign office for advice. Per organizers' instructions, she began redirecting voters to either of two nearby polling places, explaining that they could vote at these alternative sites by requesting provisional ballots. While several voters did go to these alternative sites, others were wary of the provisional ballots and concerned that their votes would be thrown out. Some voters, the volunteer said, simply walked away in frustration. These voters' official polling place finally opened at around 8 a.m., citing missing voting materials as the cause of the delay. The volunteer described the voters as "mostly people of color."
At another polling place in the same area, a volunteer reported that voters were being instructed to punch their ballots over a hole in a table, as official voting equipment had yet to arrive.
At least two other polls in the area were not open at the official 7 a.m. opening time.
Some volunteers reported problems with polling place workers, who claimed that the volunteer leafletters had no right to be in the area, although all volunteers were conscientiously outside the 100-foot no-electioneering zone. One polling-place worker said she received a call from a man claiming to be an election official, ordering her to remove the leafletters from the area under threat of discarded ballots and closure of the polling place. She believed the man to be an election official until the volunteer leafletter clarified his legal right to speak to voters outside the 100-foot zone and referred the polling-place worker to a Legal Aid representative.
More promisingly, nearly all voters at the Echo Park polling place where I worked were informed about all questions on the ballot and expressed their intentions to vote no on the recall and no on Prop 54.
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